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Initial action taken over $4-an-hour wage claims

Media release

19 June 2013

Initial action taken over $4-an-hour wage claims

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has filed action with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) in Auckland against an Auckland restaurant chain following complaints that workers are being paid less than $4-an-hour.

The ERA action lodged by the Ministry’s Labour Inspectorate demands that the business owners provide wages and time records, holiday and leave records and employment agreements for around 100 staff across the restaurant chain. The owners failed to meet a deadline to provide the records - which are required to be kept by law. The Ministry is also seeking penalties for failure to comply. 

A total of 15 companies associated with the restaurant chain are involved and each face a maximum penalty of $20,000 in respect of each failure to comply under the Employment Relations Act

The restaurants are being investigated after Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand carried out a joint compliance operation, after receiving a number of complaints from workers.

Labour Inspectorate Northern Manager David Milne says the ERA action was a first step but if breaches are found to have occurred, further enforcement action is likely to follow including improvement or demand notices, financial penalties or court action.

Allegations included that workers were being paid around $265-a-week for up to 70 hours’ work or less than $4 an hour.

“The exploitation of workers is not welcome and breaches New Zealand law. The Labour Inspectorate will not hesitate to enforce and prosecute breaches of minimum employment standards such as minimum wage and holiday entitlements,” Mr Milne said.

“Most fair-minded New Zealanders do not support labour exploitation. By breaking the law, these businesses gain an unfair advantage over their competitors.”

“I would also encourage anyone in this situation or who knows of people in this situation to phone our call centre on 0800 20 90 20 where concerns will be handled in a safe environment. “

ENDS

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