A bakery owner caught underpaying staff while making them work 80 hours a week has been ordered to pay out nearly $300,000 in arrears and penalties.
An investigation was launched into Anesly Joy Samuel, owner of Dunedin-based Romeeco Bakery after allegations he was not paying his workers properly.
The Labour Inspectorate found that bakery workers were paid wages for 40 hours per week when, in reality, they were working in excess of 80 hours per week.
"As a consequence, the remuneration actually paid to the workers did not meet the applicable statutory minimum wage rate when having regard to the total number of hours worked," said Labour Inspectorate regional manager southern Jeanie Borsboom.
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Samuel was taken to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) which has ordered him to pay $299,038 in arrears and penalties after it was found he failed to pay employees correct wages, holiday and sick leave pay in breach of the provisions of the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Minimum Wage Act 1983 and the Holidays Act 2003.
It includes penalties of $139,000 to the Crown - and a total of $19,000 to the three employees - while also having to pay $141,038.24 to the employees for arrears of minimum wage, annual and public holiday entitlements and sick leave.
The probe found that Samuel did not maintain timesheets and asked one of the employees to provide false and misleading information on minimum wages, public holiday payments, annual holiday entitlement and work location to the Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand.
Samuel also "repeatedly threatened the workers" attempting to stop them from continuing with the case.
"The Labour Inspectorate argued that there were a number of aggravating features in this case that warranted the imposition of penalties at the higher end of the scale," Borsboom said.
Declining a request for permanent non-publication, the ERA noted in its determination there is overwhelming public interest in compliance with, and enforcement of, minimum employment standards.
"Errant behaviour of the type exhibited in this determination should not be shielded from the public gaze by a conveniently constructed legal blanket," it said.