21 July 2024

Penalties for Akl. restaurant director for exploiting chef for 3 years

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Madhan Singh Bisht, director of Kiran Cuisine Ltd, operating a restaurant in Auckland to pay full arrears of $75,026 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.

The employee was denied leave by Bisht on many occasions during his three-year employment with his cuisine company, including being required to come into work at the restaurant while sick. This caused distress to the employee and had health and safety implications.

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

“The entitlements denied to this employee were appalling, and a substantial abuse of the power imbalance between employer and employee,” says David Milne, Labour Inspectorate, Regional Manager – Northern.

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.

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