Skip to main content

Auckland pub and bottle shop owners fined for paying migrant worker $4 an hour

Two employers who paid a migrant worker $4 an hour, breached several employment laws have been ordered to pay a total of $42,000 in penalties and over $45,000 in wage arrears.

The Employment Relations Authority found two linked South Auckland employers, who paid a migrant worker $4 an hour, breached several employment laws and has ordered the two companies to pay a total of $42,000 in penalties and over $45,000 in wage arrears.

Sharmas & Sons (2009) Limited and Sharmas & Sons Limited were found to be non-compliant with employment law for failing to pay the minimum wage for hours worked, not providing written employment agreements, and failing to keep accurate time and wage records.

The decision covers a period in 2012 and 2013, when the employers owned and operated four pubs in South Auckland: Bellbird Tavern, Papakura Tavern, Tainui Tavern and Oaks Tavern. They also owned and operated two Happy Liquor Stores, in Manurewa and Penrose.

The Employment Relations Authority ordered the two companies to repay wages and holiday pay arrears to the sum of $45,333.13. It also ordered $42,000 in penalties be paid, equally split between the two companies, with $22,000 of the penalty to be paid directly to the worker.

“The level of non-compliance identified during this investigation was very disappointing, given the significant breaches of the Minimum Wage Act, and Employment Relations Act 2000,” says Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager – Counties Manukau, Loua Ward.

“The ERA imposed significant penalties of $42,000, highlighting the consequences of not complying with minimum employment standards.

“This penalty sends a strong message that New Zealand does not tolerate employers who breach employment law and employ vulnerable staff under the table. Employers who breach employment law could face penalties of up to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for companies.

“The Ministry takes employment law breaches very seriously and encourages anyone in this situation, or who knows of anyone in this situation, to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment,” Ms Ward says.