The Labour Inspectorate has found 136 businesses across Auckland and Northland that were paying workers below the minimum wage over the past five years.
Fourteen of these businesses were penalised, with penalties ranging from $145,000 to $200,000.
Labour Inspectorate regional manager, David Milne, says a number of serious complaints tend to be presented within bundles of serious breaches. For example, employees being paid below the minimum wage may also have no employment agreements, or are also not correctly being paid their entitlements under the Holidays Act 2003. This has resulted in investigations becoming more complex and more likely to feature serious exploitation.
In October 2019, Employment New Zealand, a branch of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), launched an online learning tool aimed at vulnerable workers that explains minimum employment rights.
The learning module is mobile friendly and available in six different languages: English, Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Samoan, Korean, and Tagalog. There are also more detailed modules available to both employers and employees.
Mr Milne notes that as Employment New Zealand extends its campaign to educate people around their employment rights, he expects that there will be an even greater increase in the number of people making complaints about being paid below the minimum wage.
“Educational programs provided by Employment New Zealand have been pivotal in raising awareness around employment rights,” Mr Milne says.
“Employees that feel they are being underpaid should make a record of the hours and dates worked and reconcile this against their pay slips.
"Self-records for a worker can help with an investigation. If an employer hasn't kept records, that's an area we will penalise."
We encourage anyone concerned about their employment situation or that of someone they know to contact us. Concerns will be handled in a safe environment.