30 Aug 2013

Hefty fine for underpaying staff

8:48 pm on 30 August 2013

Three Auckland convenience and liquor stores have been fined $211,000 for underpaying Indian staff in New Zealand on student visas.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment prosecuted Civic Convenience, Symonds Liquor and Sky Liquor owner Ala'a Bader through the Employment Relations Authority (ERA)

after receiving a complaint from 11 employees in July last year.

The complainants, in New Zealand from India on student visas, reported being underpaid by the companies.

The ERA found Bader breached minimum wage and holiday pay entitlements, did not provide employment agreements and did not keep accurate time and wage records.

He was ordered to pay a $211,000 penalty, including $96,000 in minimum wages and holiday pay to the complainants.

Ministry spokesperson David Milne said some of the workers were blackmailed into working for nothing or were told they would be dobbed into authorities for breaching visa conditions.

"The amount should as a deterrent to other employers, who not only breach an entitlements but do so on a wholesale basis and take advantage of visitors to New Zealand," he said.