8 Dec 2020

Taumarunui bakery ordered to pay $90k over migrant exploitation

1:00 pm on 8 December 2020

A Taumarunui bakery has been ordered to pay $90,000 for exploiting migrants.

The Bakehouse Café in Taumarunui.

The Bakehouse Café in Taumarunui. Photo: Google Maps

A Labour Inspectorate investigation found two employees at The Bakehouse Café worked nearly 80 hours some weeks for less than the minimum wage.

The bakery owners - Sok Hoiring Chhoir and Rattanak Heng - also withheld holiday pay.

The employees described feeling exploited and traumatised but feared losing their jobs.

The Employment Court has ordered the married couple to pay the employees $20,000 in compensation, and $70,000 in penalties.

They have also coughed up more than $30,000 in outstanding wages and holiday pay.

Labour Inspectorate national manager Stu Lumsden said the case was an example of how vulnerable migrant workers could be.

"These two workers were new to the district, spoke English as a second language and were without extensive support networks.

"The employer was opportunistic in breaching their rights, recognising the employees were unfamiliar with New Zealand employment laws and their rights and entitlements."

He said anyone with employment concerns should contact them.