19 July 2024

Employer couple fined $1.32k for exploiting work visa workers

By Gurbir Singh:

Prabh Limited, and its shareholder and director couple, Rajwinder Kaur and Baljinder Singh, have been fined a total of $132,000 for significant breaches of the Minimum Wage and Holidays Act by the  Employment Court.

Prabh Limited own a general store in Murupara, and a small store in Kopuriki that sold liquor and petrol. Both stores trade independently.

The Employment Court ruled three migrant employees working in these two stores will receive $10,000 each in compensation from there employer couple who “conspired to instigate, aid and abet” persistent breaches of their employment rights.

Labour Inspectorate Retail Sector Lead Loua Ward says, “The workers originally came to New Zealand on student visas and upon completion of their studies, secured work visas to allow them to work as shop assistants.

“The Court heard that the employees were underpaid and overworked. In addition to undertaking shop assistant tasks, the workers looked after their employers’ children, washed their cars, and cleaned their houses.”

Prabh Limited, Kaur and Singh will be placed on the Stand Down list for two years and will be prevented from hiring migrant workers for that time.

The Court ruled the treatment of the three employees was such a persistent breach over a long period of time, that it could not have been considered unintentional.

The breaches included failure to keep wage records and evidence of retrospective creation of employment agreements, going back to 2014.

“What’s even more concerning is that the managers had received previous reminders from the Labour Inspectorate of their obligations to provide minimum wages, holidays and holiday pay, following a complaint made by a former staff member.

“These two employers took unfair advantage of this situation, and the Judge agreed they had no intention of paying them what they were legally owed,” says Ms Ward.

The Court accepted the three workers suffered substantial financial losses, depression, stress and anxiety and awarded them compensation.

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