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Super Liquor pleased with Employment Court ruling

21 October 2019

No tolerance for abuse of legal obligations, new initiatives already in place to help prevent reoccurrence

Campbell McMahon, Chief Executive of Super Liquor Holdings Limited said he is pleased with the ruling of the Employment Court against former franchisees P & K Parihar for historic breaches of employment law over a number of years at two Super Liquor stores in Hamilton.

“We’re pleased the court has come out hard and made an example in this case. Super Liquor simply will not tolerate any abuse of fundamental obligations under employment law or exploitation of employees by its franchisees.

“There is no place in the New Zealand business community for this kind of behaviour and we hope that the court’s decision today sends a clear message to employers up and down the country about compliance with employment legislation and its importance,” he said.

Super Liquor Holdings Limited (SLH), as the master franchisor of the Super Liquor brand, operates a franchise agreement with each of its 152 stores, requiring franchisees to comply with all aspects of NZ law, including employment legislation. Any franchisee that breaks the law will be in breach of their franchise agreement.

SLH does not hold the employment relationship with any store employees. The legal relationship is between the franchisee and the employee.

“Nevertheless, we take the welfare of all Super Liquor people extremely seriously, and we expect our franchisees to do the same”, said Mr McMahon.

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“That is why we are extremely disappointed with the events that have led to today’s judgement. The ex-franchisee has been found to have deliberately and repeatedly broken the law over a long period of time and the judgment reflects the extent of the offending.

“Our franchisees are in a position of trust and we hold them to high standards of behaviour. Unfortunately, the ex-franchisees fell far short of that standard and in doing so let down their employees, fellow franchisees and the Super Liquor brand.

“Operating a compliant and safe workplace is paramount to Super Liquor and we comprehensively support our franchisees to meet all their obligations under NZ employment law. The level of support we provide to them means there is no excuse for franchisees not meeting their legal obligations.

“Earlier this year we put in place steps to enhance our already comprehensive employment law compliance programme to close gaps and help ensure people meet their obligations.

“By providing additional training and support to achieve a best practice franchise workplace, we are making sure there is no room for misunderstanding of the responsibilities and standards of behaviour we expect.”

Super Liquor has also been working with the Labour Inspectorate to ensure its enhanced compliance programmes satisfy industry best-practice, and has been keeping MBIE informed of the action taken. It has also liaised with the Indian Workers and Migrant Workers associations to get their perspective and keep them up to date.

Support to franchisees ranges from detailed guidance in Super Liquor’s Franchise Operations Manual, a clear policy that refers to the key employment obligations that a franchisee owes towards its employees and a requirement to meet those obligations, ongoing education and training; including workshops on NZ employment legislation and practice.

Enhancements have included:
• Appointing specialist law firm Lane Neave to advise franchisees on workplace law
• Enhancements to operational systems regarding workplace law matters
• Increased training and education on New Zealand workplace law matters
• Information and communication to provide increased levels of assurance to franchisee employees around workplace law entitlements
• Increased monitoring of workplace law compliance
• A national workplace law review of all 152 stores in the franchise network focusing on key compliance areas in employment and immigration law
• A clear policy on how Super Liquor will act when it is notified of workplace law issues

“Where we find evidence that the law has been deliberately broken, we will continue to take a hard line. Having said that, nothing will change if a franchisee terminated from Super Liquor today for deliberately breaching employment law can reopen tomorrow trading under a different alcohol retail banner. We fully support the enforcement agencies applying the full force of the law so that the exploitation of vulnerable workers is properly stamped out across the industry,” said Mr McMahon.

“Super Liquor has zero tolerance for breaches of fundamental employment law obligations, and we will do everything we reasonably can to ensure that we, our franchisees and their staff, and the wider community can have confidence in the workplace practices of Super Liquor franchisees.”

P & K Parihar are no longer franchisees of Super Liquor Hillcrest or Flagstaff.

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