A man who liquidated his company after being penalised nearly $430,000 for exploiting workers has been made personally liable for the nearly $120,000 that's still outstanding.
The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has joined Jujhar Singh to his previous company Binde Enterprises Ltd, following a Labour Inspectorate investigation which uncovered nearly $210,000 in wages owed to 75 migrants working on a vegetable farm in the Bombay Hills.
Attempts were made to contact Singh, but he was not immediately available.
"This sends a clear message to employers that if minimum employment standards are breached and workers are exploited, closing down the business will not get its owners or directors off the hook," says Kevin Finnegan, labour inspector horticulture lead.
Singh has been given three months to pay the full outstanding amount.
This is the latest ERA finding in which the Labour Inspectorate has successfully prosecuted the owners of a registered company.
In 2016 the wife of an Auckland fast-food business was determined by the ERA to be financially liable for more than $20,000 in unpaid wages to eight migrant workers.
Also in 2016, three owners of an Auckland clothing store chain were found personally liable for nearly $70,000 in arrears owed by their companies to exploited migrant workers.
"We will continue to pursue cases like this, targeting those who might be hiding behind a company name or failure, or closing it down deliberately, to get away with not paying what they owe for their employment breaches."
Finnegan said that incidences of migrant exploitation are a priority for the Labour Inspectorate.
"[These workers] have the same rights as all other workers in New Zealand, however, they are often less aware of their rights and entitlements," he said.
"Not providing your employees with their basic legal entitlements such as minimum wage or holiday pay, or keeping employment records, is simply not acceptable and breaches New Zealand law."
The Labour is also calling for all former workers of Binde Enterprises to come forward, as they may have money owed to them.