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Christchurch restaurants to pay $70k for multiple employment law breaches

A Christchurch company operating two Japanese restaurants has been penalised $70,000 by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) after the Labour Inspectorate found them ignoring employment law.

The director of Japan Power, which trades as Samurai Bowl, Masakazu Takeuchi, said he did not agree with New Zealand employment law, and ran his business “how it is in Japan”.

“These were significant breaches of employment standards done by an employer who failed to follow New Zealand law, and as a result left his employees out of pocket,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Jeanie Borsboom.

“By not correctly paying annual leave, alternative holiday pay and public holiday, and paying on the basis of minimum wage rates rather than their agreed hourly rate, Japan Power breached the rights of 25 employees.”

While higher penalties could’ve been imposed by the ERA, discounts were given as the employer cooperated with the Inspectorate, fixed their systems, and paid the $23,927 owed to the affected employees.

“We are glad to see these employees receive their arrears, particularly as they were vulnerable migrant workers in a company which made an intentional business decision to not provide holiday pay or keep adequate holiday and leave records for its staff,” says Mrs Borsboom.

“The significant penalty awarded in this case should send a clear message that you cannot ignore New Zealand employment law, and that the Inspectorate will not let companies off the hook which seek a competitive advantage by shirking their obligations.

“Every employer must keep wage, time, holiday and leave records and meet all minimum standards, which is an important part of running a business in New Zealand.”

As a result of these penalties, Japan Power is on a stand down list preventing them from sponsoring visas for migrant workers for 24 months.

Anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the situation of someone they know, should call 0800 20 90 20 where they can report their concerns in a safe environment.