Man must pay for former company’s labour exploitation

A man who liquidated his company after being penalised nearly $430,000 for exploiting workers, has been made personally liable for the nearly $120,000 that’s still outstanding.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ‘joined’ Jujhar Singh to his previous company Binde Enterprises Ltd, following a Labour Inspectorate investigation which uncovered nearly $210,000 in wages owed to 75 migrants working on a vegetable farm in the Bombay Hills. 

“This sends a clear message to employers that if minimum employment standards are breached and workers are exploited, closing down the business will not get its owners or directors off the hook,” says Kevin Finnegan, Labour Inspector Horticulture lead. 

Mr Singh has three months to pay the full outstanding amount. 

This is the latest ERA finding in which the Labour Inspectorate has successfully prosecuted the owners of the registered company responsible for employment breaches. 

In 2016 the wife of an Auckland fast food business was determined by the ERA to be financially liable for more than $20,000 in unpaid wages to eight migrant workers. 

That same month three owners of an Auckland clothing store chain were found personally liable for nearly $70,000 in arrears owed by their companies to exploited migrant workers. 

“We will continue to pursue cases like this, targeting those who might be hiding behind a company name or failure, or closing it down deliberately, to get away with not paying what they owe for their employment breaches.” 

He says incidences of migrant exploitation are a priority for the Labour Inspectorate, as these workers are a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce. 

“They have the same rights as all other workers in New Zealand, however they are often less aware of their rights and entitlements. 

“Not providing your employees with their basic legal entitlements such as minimum wage or holiday pay, or keeping employment records, is simply not acceptable and breaches New Zealand law,” says Mr Finnegan. 

The Labour Inspectorate is also calling for all former workers of Binde Enterprises to come forward, as they may have monies owed to them which can be claimed back through these determinations.  This can be done by workers phoning the call centre on 0800 20 90 20 with their IRD number and contact details. 

“We encourages anyone concerned about the employment situation of themselves, or someone they know, to call its contact centre, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment,” he says.