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Dunedin business penalised nearly $54K after deceiving Labour Inspector

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has penalised Grocery King for 40 employment breaches and attempting to deceive the Labour Inspectorate.

Groceryking.co.nz (2016) Limited, trading as Grocery King, has been ordered to pay $44,750 in penalties. Director, Quing (Jade) Luo, was made personally responsible for a further $8,960 in penalties.

The Labour Inspectorate visited the convenience store in November 2017, as part of an operation to check compliance with employment standards in retail and hospitality businesses in Dunedin. It found several breaches relating to four Grocery King employees, including issues with record-keeping and holiday payments.

Although Grocery King assured it only ever employed four people, further investigation by the Labour Inspectorate confirmed the existence of four additional employees. The employer claimed these were just people who “helped out”. It kept no employment agreements or records for these workers.

Labour Inspectorate regional manager Jeanie Borsboom says, “The Labour Inspectorate occasionally encounters persons working informally within a business.

“Any work by employees for gain or reward must be properly documented under New Zealand legislation.

“Even if the work is casual or short term, employers must keep written employment agreements, records of hours, wages and leave, and provide at least the minimum wage and minimum holiday pay entitlements.”

The Labour Inspectorate lodged the case with the ERA after the business failed to respond to an Improvement Notice.

The eight people working for Grocery King included both New Zealand citizens and migrants. All arrears of approximately $1,800 have been repaid.

“The penalties of nearly $54,000 on top of these arrears send a clear message to employers that they cannot bypass their obligations or attempt to conceal information from the Labour Inspectorate.

“The Employment New Zealand website provides extensive information, resources and tools for free and in multiple languages.  There is no excuse to get this wrong,” Ms Borsboom says.

Anyone concerned about the employment situation of themselves or someone they know is advised to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.