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Labour Inspectorate enforcement yields $313k

Enforcement action has recovered wage arrears and penalties in excess of $313,000 from the owner of Dunedin-based Romeeco Bakery.

The enforcement activity follows a decision by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) in November 2021.

A Labour Inspectorate investigation found that the employer had failed to pay its employees the correct wages, holiday and sick leave pay, in breach of the provisions of the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Minimum Wage Act 1983 and the Holidays Act 2003.

The ERA ordered the owner of the bakery, Anesly Joy Samuel, as a person involved in the breaches, to pay penalties of $158,000 and a total of more than $193,000 to the three employees in minimum wage arrears, as well as $40,000 in leave entitlements.

Regional Manager Southern Jeanie Borsboom says the case sends a clear message to businesses who exploit their workers that they will face severe penalties, which will be vigorously enforced.

In the ERA hearing, the Labour Inspectorate had argued for penalties to be imposed at the higher end of the scale. The total amount received to date is approximately $351,000, which – while short of the total awards of around $392,000 – is a significant outcome, says Ms Borsboom.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s finance team is continuing to work to ensure the employees in the case are paid their full minimum wage arrears and portion of the total penalties. Their leave entitlements have already been paid by the employer.

The Labour Inspectorate encourages anyone concerned about their employment situation or the situation of someone they know to contact the Employment New Zealand service centre where concerns are handled in a safe environment.

Read more about the ERA decision:

Labour Inspector v Samuel and Ors [2021] NZERA 479 [PDF, 550 KB] (external link)

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