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Courtenay Place shop to pay $54K after MBIE uncovered labour law breaches

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered a Wellington business ShopperStop 1 Limited to pay approximately $54,000 in penalties for employment law breaches and arrears owed to an employee.

ShopperStop was a small business in Courtenay Place that sold takeaway food and grocery items. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate brought the case before the ERA after receiving a complaint from a former worker concerned about their treatment and work conditions.

An extensive investigation by the Labour Inspectorate found an array of minimum standards breaches in relation to the migrant employee from India. These included failure by the employer to pay minimum wages and to provide holiday pay, statutory holidays and annual leave entitlements. The company also failed to keep adequate time and wage records in accordance with the Employment Act.

Furthermore, the employee paid his employer $20,426 in premiums to secure the job to be able to get a work visa.

Labour Inspectorate Wellington Regional Manager Kevin Finnegan says exploitation of workers is not acceptable in our society and such practises breach New Zealand laws.

“Migrant workers are a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce and are an increasing focus for the Ministry’s enforcement operations. Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand and charging employment premiums breaches the Wages Protection Act 1983,” he says

The ERA ordered ShopperStop to pay $15,000 in penalties. They also ordered to repay $38,872.72 to the worker in minimum wages, holiday pay, employment premiums paid by the employee.

“This ruling sends a clear message to employers that failure to comply with the minimum labour standards and seeking premium payments from vulnerable workers will not be tolerated,” says Mr Finnegan.

The Ministry 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.

Read the ERA determination (external link)