A Waikato company has been ordered to pay $25,000, and similarly its sole director has been ordered to pay $12,500 by the ERA for exploiting six staff underpaid by more than $17,300.
A Labour Inspectorate investigation found Jagran Property Services Limited (Jagran), owned by Mr Jagendra Prasad, failed to pay minimum wage and holiday pay, keep accurate records and charged an employee a premium to have a work visa.
Jagran operates a Crew Care Commercial Cleaning and Green Acres Mobile Care Valet in the Waikato and differing employment breaches were found across six of Jagran’s employees.
Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Natalie Gardiner says, “Our investigation into Jagran came from a complaint an employee made regarding not receiving wages and a requirement to make a payment to support her work visa.
“We then undertook an investigation into Jagran’s employment practices and found further breaches affecting five other employees. These breaches left employees out of pocket and one employee concerned about her visa status.
“While arrears have now been paid, the employee that made the complaint was made to survive for an extended period of time with little earnings for many hours of work.
“This non-compliant business model meant Jagran’s employees were exploited while his business benefitted.
“This also sends a strong message for larger companies or franchise operations. Non-compliant business models should be monitored from the very top of the supply chain.
“It’s important that businesses are able to provide assurance to consumers that their operating model has its workers’ treatment at front of mind.
“Cleaners are around us every day but can often be an invisible and the most vulnerable workforce, cases like this should send a message to consumers to think carefully about worker pay and conditions when hiring a service such as home or office cleaning.
“Treatment of workers like this undermines the New Zealand ethos of a fair days work for a fair days pay. It also puts law abiding businesses at a disadvantage and they can’t compete on prices,” says Ms Gardiner.
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 or is concerned 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.