Mobil must pay over employee wage deduction for drive-offs

1:53 pm on 15 July 2019

A South Auckland petrol station will have to pay more than $20,000 for making its employees pay for fuel stolen in drive-offs.

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Mobil on Porchester Road in Takanini was fined by the Employment Relations Authority on 9 July.

At least two employees, one aged under 20, were made to pay for drive-offs.

The Labour Inspector initiated proceedings seeking penalties relating to 16 breaches of the Employment Relations Act, including failing to record the age of an employee who was under 20 years old, and failing to pay out holiday pay.

The company was liable for a maximum fine of $320,000.

Company director Sohan Mittal told the authority he initiated the policy because some employees were allowing family members or friends to take petrol for free.

He said he had sought legal advice before drafting the policy and was not aware what he was asking was illegal.

On 6 November 2017, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) contact centre received a complaint from employee Ricky Robinson concerned that Mobil was not paying migrant workers for minimum hours they worked and that it was enforcing a wage deduction for service station drive-offs.

The Labour Inspector investigated and Mr Mittal told the authority all affected employees had been repaid as soon as the matter had been raised.

Labour Inspectorate regional manager Callum McMillan said the practice of pay-docking for fuel pump drive-offs was not new.

"It's extremely disappointing to see that Mobil has failed to stop these sorts of issues from occurring in businesses that trade under its brand.

"The fact that an employee has signed an employment agreement that forced them to pay for theft by customers, does not make the clause or its enforcement legal."

Along with the company penalty, Mr Mittal was also ordered to pay $3000 of his own money for breaches of the Holidays Act and Wages Protection Act.

In a statement, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment encouraged anyone concerned about their employment situation to call its contact centre.