Two Waikato businesses operated by a sole director and shareholder have been ordered to pay $21,600 in penalties by ERA for exploiting a migrant worker underpaid by nearly $30,000.
A Labour Inspectorate investigation found Kumar Holdings and Associates Limited (Kumar Holdings) and World Class Kiwi Parcel Limited (World Class Kiwi), both owned by Nitesh Kumar, failed to pay minimum wage and holiday pay, and keep accurate employment records.
Kumar Holdings operates a courier logistics business, contracted to NZ Post and a cleaning business, which traded as Green Acres. World Class Kiwi also operates a courier logistics business. The ERA found both defaulting companies failed to pay minimum wage and holiday pay, and keep accurate employment records.
Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Natalie Gardiner says, “Mr Kumar has since repaid more than $27,000 wage and holiday arrears owed to the ex-employee.
“These are hefty sums which Mr Kumar deprived from his employee for his own financial benefit, so the large penalty ordered by the ERA’s Determination this month shows how serious these employment breaches are.
“The employee undertook cleaning activities, mail runs, and courier driving, all the while being paid below the minimum wage, and often for more than 40 hours per week.
“Adding to this, the ex-employee’s contract stated he was hired as an Assistant Operations Manager despite his daily tasks not reflecting that description.
“The ERA found that many of these breaches of record keeping, including employment agreements, were deliberate, sustained and ongoing.
“The ex-employee was hired for three years and nine months, during which the ERA found ‘a pattern of continual breaches of the minimum statutory requirements’. This is unacceptable and disappointing.
“Not only did Mr Kumar financially benefit at the expense of his employee, he also obtained an unfair advantage over his market competitors and that behaviour is strongly discouraged,” says Ms Gardiner.
Kumar Holdings and World Class Kiwi will be placed on the Stand Down list for 12 months and will be prevented from hiring migrant workers for that time.
Migrant workers are a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce, as they’re less likely to be aware of their rights and entitlements and can be concerned regarding their visa status.
“Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand, and the Inspectorate works with Immigration NZ and other government agencies as part of a whole-of-government approach to combat migrant exploitation,” says Ms Gardiner.
MBIE encourages anyone who has information about minimum standards or visa conditions not being met to phone the Ministry’s service centre handled in a confidential manner on 0800 20 90 20.