A kebab chain has been forced to pay up almost $100,000 after it was found to have underpaid two of its chefs.

The Taste of Egypt has paid $91,000 in penalties and arrears to the Employment Court after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment froze its assets.

It had been ordered to pay up after a decision made in November where it was found to have underpaid the chefs for hours worked and failed to pay minimum wages, statutory holidays and annual leave to the two migrant employees from India.

"The two chefs worked in excess of 70 hours and were only paid for 30," the MBIE said in its statement.


It said the company had also failed to keep adequate time and wage records in accordance with the Employment Act.

The company planned to appeal the findings.

The freezing order against the company and its directors had been made after the company's Nelson and Christchurch restaurants were sold.

In its statement, the MBIE said its Labour Inspectorate believed the company directors were planning to leave the country permanently or to dissipate their assets.

An application was made to the Employment Court and a freezing order, to the amount of the outstanding debt, was granted on April 5, 2016.

Once the company paid the debt the freezing order was lifted.

Labour Inspectorate Wellington regional manager Kevin Finnegan said the exploitation of workers would not be tolerated.

"The Inspectorate will use all legal avenues available to ensure those determined to escape their financial and legal responsibilities are held to account."


He said MBIE was working proactively to crack down on employment law breaches.

From April 1, 2016, most serious breaches can carry penalties of up to $50,000 for an individual and the greater of $100,000 or three times the financial gain for a company.

MBIE encourages anyone in the situation of being exploited or who knows of anyone in this situation, to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20 where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.