The owners of two liquor stores were ordered to pay a record fine for underpaid and over-hiring of vulnerable employees.
Husband and wife Paramjeet Singh Parihar and Kuldip Kaur Parihar, who owned two Super Liquor stores in Hamilton, were found guilty of paying between $ 8 and $ 11 – less than the minimum wage of seven years.
Some Hillcrest and Flagstaff employees worked more than 60 to 70 hours a week – including on public holidays and were not provided with sick leave, vacations or holidays.
The Employment Tribunal ordered them to pay a record $ 200,000 in penalties for serious labor law violations – $ 80,000 of which would be paid to workers for the mental and emotional hardship they suffered from their employers.
The couple has already repaid $ 250,470 to six former employees of arrears and vacation pay. One employee was compensated $ 106,076 for seven years of underpaid payments.
The court saw their failure in proper employment records, an attempt to cover up their wrongdoing.
Workers are all migrant workers from India on temporary work visas.
The judge said the actions of the workers were "inexplicable and dangerous".
Regional Director of Labor Inspectorate Callum McMillan said this sent a clear message to employers who exploit vulnerable workers that they would not be tolerated.
The Labor Inspectorate is working with Super Liquor Holdings to improve top-down work practices and to ensure that franchisees regularly monitor compliance with labor laws within their franchise group to prevent employee exploitation.
"It is disappointing that such exploitation has taken place in a well-known franchise such as Super Liquor. In New Zealand and in the world there is a growing demand for corporations to be ethical and responsible in their practice, which goes beyond legal obligations. This means that their earnings cannot be happen to the detriment of staff advancing in their franchises or in their supply chains, ”McMillan said.
The Parihari have sold two liquor stores and are not planning to become employers again. Their failure to comply with court orders could result in imprisonment.