Restaurant owner shows “no real remorse” for employment breaches

Rotorua company, Vishnu Hospitality Limited, which trades as Lovely India restaurant has been ordered to pay $10,000 for failing to keep accurate employment records.

The breach includes subsequently failing to provide those records when requested by the Labour Inspectorate. The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found that company director Nilin Patel’s cooperation with the Inspectorate’s inquiry was ‘grudging and partial’.

Labour Inspectorate National Manager Stu Lumsden says, “Mr Patel was not able to provide us with employment records within the time set by legislation, which caused a hindrance to our Labour Inspector’s investigation.”

“Furthermore, Mr Patel put the onus of recording holiday and leave records for staff on a manager, and we later found that those records did not exist. 

“The company, as the employing entity, is liable for the failure to meet minimum employment standards.

“The responsibility to ensure accurate employment records are kept lies solely with the employer, and where these aren’t provided in a timely manner, the Inspectorate will seek penalties though the ERA,” says Mr Lumsden. 

Mr Patel entered into mediation through Employment Mediation Services with the aim to discuss and agree on what arrears were owed to staff, in the absence of legally required physical records. 

Mr Patel then independently arranged settlements of wage arrears with his employees. The ERA saw this as a ‘less costly option’ for Mr Patel, and that he had showed ‘no real remorse’ demonstrated for breaching his employees’ minimum employment rights. 

“The ERA took these factors, and Mr Patel’s treatment of the investigation into account when handing down penalties. His lengthy non-compliance meant the investigation spanned over 12 months. 

“If employers are found to breach their employees’ minimum rights, we expect them to co-operate and comply with our investigations, and where this isn’t being done, they can expect to face further penalties and costs in the ERA,” says Mr Lumsden.