A cafe manager who didn’t take leave for two and a half years because the business didn’t have enough staff has been allowed to pursue the more than $6000 the owner owes her.
Bhupinder Kaur worked at the Village Green Cafe in Havelock North from January 2020 until June 2022.
She was employed by the company J & R (2019) Ltd, whose sole director and shareholder was Joga Singh Chamber.
The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) said that Kaur worked for the company for almost two and a half years and did not take any annual leave as the cafe did not have enough staff to cover her absence.
When she resigned and left, she was not paid her full entitlement of annual holiday pay and it was paid at an incorrect hourly rate.
She also discovered that an incorrect hourly rate had been applied to the calculation of her wages on many other occasions throughout her employment.
It’s understood the cafe has since closed and the premises is under new management.
Kaur took her case to the ERA, seeking the money she was owed by J & R (2019), and Chamber.
The authority found that she was owed $840 in wage arrears, $5596 in unpaid holiday pay, and interest of $361. It also said she was entitled to more than $2000 in costs.
Kaur was employed at an hourly rate of $22 but this rose to $25.50 in the last 15 months of her employment.
Neither Chamber nor his company participated in the ERA hearings, despite being sent notice of them.
Companies Office records show that the company is overdue in its obligation to file an annual return, and that the registrar has initiated action to remove it from the register.
Kaur also told the ERA that Chamber leased the building that the cafe was in, and that since she left the business it has been sold and is no longer being operated by him.
“Mr Chamber was deeply and personally involved in the day-to-day management of J & R, trading as the Village Green Cafe,” the authority decision said.
“He was the ‘hands and mind’ through which the Village Green Cafe operated and was the only person in control of the business. It follows that Mr Chamber was a person involved in the breaches of employment standards by the company.”
Because of these factors, the ERA gave Kaur leave to pursue the debts from Chamber personally, rather than his business.
Chamber was ordered to pay the money within 28 days.
Ric Stevens spent many years working for the former New Zealand Press Association news agency, including as a political reporter at Parliament, before holding senior positions at various daily newspapers. He joined NZME’s Open Justice team in 2022 and is based in Hawke’s Bay.