December 5, 2021

Auckland’s Brews Liquor stores fined $34,000 for migrant worker exploitation

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Preeminent Enterprise Limited (trading as Brews Liquor Waimauku) has been found guilty by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) for employment breaches at two Auckland stores and ordered to pay penalties of $25,000, and its director $9,000.

A Labour Inspectorate investigation found Preeminent Enterprise Ltd, which owned and operated the Brews Liquor stores in Pukekohe and Waimauku, had breached the employment standards of three migrant workers.

The company had failed to pay the minimum wage for all hours worked and correctly calculate and provide holiday pay and leave. In addition, its director Akash Patel who had complete oversight of the business and responsibility for the daily operations, was found personally liable for a penalty of $9,000.

Preeminent Enterprise has since sold the Brews Liquor Pukekohe store. The Brews Liquor Waimauku store is now operated by another company, Mega Ventures Limited, in which Akash Patel is a director.

According to Labour Inspectorate Retail Sector Strategy lead, Loua Ward the company benefitted from its failure to meet its statutory obligations and took advantage of these migrant employees.

“This was the second time Preeminent Enterprise Limited had been investigated by the Inspectorate involving extensive effort. But it had failed to sustain the improvements it had promised, including record keeping and payments…these breaches were intentional and such conduct by employers is unacceptable,” says Ward.

The liquor retail sector in New Zealand has been the subject of recent investigations by the inspectorate and an Alcohol Regulatory and Licencing Authority Decision in September cancelled liquor licences for five Canterbury liquor stores, following findings of worker exploitation.

Migrant workers have the same minimum employment rights as New Zealand workers. The Inspectorate encourages anyone concerned about their employment situation or the situation of someone they know to contact the Employment New Zealand service centre on 0800 200 088.

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