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Restaurant Director Liable For Penalties After Exploiting Worker

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Madhan Singh Bisht, director of Kiran Cuisine Limited, operating a restaurant in Auckland to pay full arrears of $75,026.18 in unpaid minimum wage, leave, and holiday pay to a former employee, as well as a further $50,000 in penalties.

The Labour Inspectorate took the case to the ERA following a complaint from a former employee who worked at the restaurant as a chef.

The Inspectorate’s investigation found the employee consistently worked an average of between 60 and 70 hours each week over approximately three years of employment, despite being contracted and paid for up to 36 hours only.

The employee was in the vulnerable position of relying on Bisht for his employment in regards to his immigration status.

Bisht, who was aware of the need to meet minimum employment standards, exploited this employee’s vulnerable position and failed to provide minimum entitlements over a significant period of time. This caused distress to the employee and had health and safety implications. The employee was denied leave by Bisht on many occasions during his three-year employment with Kiran Cuisine Limited, including being required to come into work at the restaurant while sick.

ERA’s determination found Bisht liable for $75,026.18 in arrears and $50,000 in penalties as the sole director of Kiran Cuisine Limited. The company has been liquidated since these breaches took place, though Bisht as director is still liable for these charges.

“This case demonstrates that employment law isn’t just about rules for rules-sake, but exercising basic humanity to workers in New Zealand,” says David Milne, Labour Inspectorate, Regional Manager – Northern.

“The entitlements denied to this employee were appalling, and a substantial abuse of the power imbalance between employer and employee.“

New measures have come into force as of 1 July 2021 to help combat migrant worker exploitation. These include a new visa to support migrants to leave exploitative situations quickly and remain lawfully in New Zealand, as well as a dedicated 0800 number and web form to make it easier to report migrant exploitation and ensure complaints are assessed quickly. Interpreters are available in more than 180 languages.

To contact the dedicated migrant exploitation team, call MBIE on 0800 20 00 88 (Monday to Friday, 8.00am-5.30pm, excluding public holidays).

To report migrant exploitation online, fill out the form on the Employment New Zealand website - Reporting migrant exploitation.

Learn about your rights and responsibilities as employees and employers through Employment Learning Modules - Employment Learning Modules. These modules are free and available in Simplified Chinese, Hindi, Samoan, Korean, Tagalog, and English.

If you have questions relating to minimum employment standards or want to report any incidents, we encourage you to call us on 0800 20 90 20, where your concerns will be handled in a safe environment.

© Scoop Media

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