An Auckland company has been forced to pay more than $160,000 in pay arrears and penalties to five employees it exploited.
Food City Limited was investigated by the Labour Inspectorate over concerns about the hours and conditions for the cleaners at the Northcote Shopping Centre food court.
It was found they were working 12-hour days six days a week, but being paid only the minimum wage for 40 hours.
Some had to stop working because their health was failing and they weren't allowed sick leave.
The inspectorate said the company took advantage of vulnerable workers, who were older and did not speak English.
Last week the Employment Relations Authority ruled Food City had to pay $126,000 in arrears owed to the workers, and $37,000 in penalties.
The company initially refused, but paid up after threats its director would be held personally liable.