Napier restaurant fined $30,000 for abusing workers' rights

January 28, 2019


Clueless to their rights, two migrant workers at a Napier restaurant were worked long hours for months without a break, authorities say.



HR Matters Tip:

You must keep accurate and real time wage and time records for all employees that work within your business. Failure to meet this requirement opens your business up to significant risk.

The Employment Relations Authority has ordered Golden Spring Takeaway, owned by Huichan Xu, to pay $30,000 after breaching several employment rules, including not keeping full records over pay and leave.


"The employees worked long hours, seven days a week with no days off for a period of over six months," Labour Inspectorate's national manager Stu Lumsden said.


In a recently released decision, the authority's chief James Crichton concluded the migrants had been exploited.


They were treated differently to other workers, had no family here, were unfamiliar with New Zealand law and unable to seek advice because of their working situation.


The restaurant was accused of 10 breaches, including failing to retain copies of individual employment agreements, failing to keep wage and time records, and failing to keep holiday and leave records, as required by law.


Initially Xu denied that the pair were employed by her and gave the inspectorate manufactured records developed once the investigation had begun.

Lumsden the case was a reminder that migrants were "a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce".


"They're less likely to be aware of their rights and entitlements and can be concerned regarding their visa status,"


In another case, Auckland flooring company Modern Floor and Wall was fined $25,000 for breaching all minimum employment standards for two employees.

The penalty was split between the company, which was fined $15,000, and its sole director Srinivas Panuganti​ who was fined $10,000 personally.


According to the inspectorate, Modern Floor and Wall had failed its employees in many ways including two failures to pay the minimum wage, not maintaining holiday and leave records and instances of not paying holiday pay.


Lumsden said the employees were even asked to pay a "premium" to the director to retain their employment – "basically having to pay to have their job".

"Businesses should not be making profit at the expense of their employees. It is good to see the ERA is holding not only companies but directors personally culpable for penalties.


"Every employer needs to keep wage, time, holiday and leave records to ensure they meet all minimum standards, and where these are not in place the Inspectorate can and will impose fines."


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