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Employment practices can affect businesses’ suitability to hold a liquor licence

Two Brothers Wholesale Limited, Trading as Thirsty Liquor Tokoroa, lost its alcohol licence after poor employment practices.

The Alcohol and Regulatory Licensing Authority (ARLA) found Two Brothers Wholesale Limited, Trading as Thirsty Liquor Tokoroa to be unsuitable to hold an alcohol licence after poor employment practices by the business.

The Labour Inspectorate, part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, investigated Two Brothers last year, after receiving a complaint from a former employee. The Inspectorate found systemic breaches of employment laws by Two Brothers over a five-year period.

Several parties objected to Two Brothers’ liquor licence renewal and the Labour Inspectorate was called upon to provide evidence. When the licence renewal was declined by the local authority, Two Brothers raised an appeal with ARLA.

ARLA declined the appeal, stating suitability to hold a liquor licence was wider than just “safe and responsible sale and supply and consumption of liquor”. It included “consideration of the character and reputation of the applicant and its honesty” as well as the operation of its premises.

ARLA found Two Brothers gained an unfair advantage over competitors through underpaying is employees.

ARLA said it did not have faith in the business being able to comply with alcohol laws due to poor employment practices such as no proper training for staff and employees working long hours without breaks, which could impair their decision-making abilities related to the sale of alcohol to minors and intoxicated people. ARLA also cited a lack of records-keeping and failure to accept responsibility for these practices.

Labour Inspectorate retail sector strategy lead, Loua Ward said the Inspectorate is pleased with the ARLA decision. “It confirms that there is a clear connection between breaches of employment standards by a business and its ability to safely and responsibly sell alcohol.

“The Labour Inspectorate will continue to provide evidence for objections to liquor licences being granted to businesses or directors who have been involved in migrant exploitation or other serious breaches of employment law.

“The Inspectorate is also engaging with key industry players such as franchisors and suppliers to help prevent exploitation within the industry. Franchise-like businesses, like Thirsty Liquor, need to take active steps to ensure that businesses who operate under their brand are compliant with employment laws.

“We are starting to see industry leaders taking more proactive steps to lift compliance. This includes franchisors implementing their own assurance programmes to verify that businesses trading under their brand follow legal requirements and cutting ties with employers who fail to do this,” Ms Ward says.

The Labour Inspectorate encourages anyone concerned about their employment situation or the situation of someone they know, to phone the Ministry’s service centre on 0800 20 90 20 where concerns are handled in a safe environment.

More information about Thirsty Liquor Tokoroa:

Thirsty Liquor Tokoroa loses alcohol licence after employment law non-compliance