21 July 2024

Retailer gets home detention for migrant exploitation

Gurbir Singh

By: Gurbir Singh, gurbir@newsviews.co.nz

The Waihi District Court has sentenced retail company, Sai Bliss Limited and one of its directors’, Bhupinder Bhardwaj to home detention for exploiting a migrant worker.

Investigations by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) revealed the employee was owed over $73,000 in minimum wage and holiday pay arrears.

Failure to properly pay their migrant employee and observe his holiday pay entitlements over an almost 18 month period, the Court awarded a 12-month home detention for Bhardwaj, and a $250,000 fine for his company.

It followed guilty pleas to charges of providing false information to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and exploitation charges under the Immigration Act for failing to observe the Minimum Wage and Holidays Acts.

An investigation into Sai Bliss and Bhardwaj found, despite agreeing to pay an employee on a work visa $18 an hour in his employment agreement, the worker was paid just $250 a week and consistently well below the minimum wage.

In some weeks, the employee’s hourly rate of pay was under $3 an hour. Bhardwaj told the employee his rate of pay would not be changed, and also threatened to have his visa terminated.

NewsViews understands from unconfirmed reports Bhardwaj runs a small store in Katikati with his wife, Anu Bhardwaj, and the affected migrant employee is believed to be an Indian. Bhardwaj is also said to be living in Katikati since 2001.

Investigations by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) revealed the employee was owed over $73,000 in minimum wage and holiday pay arrears.

Immigration New Zealand is warning employers; there will be rigorous prosecution of employers who exploit migrants.

INZ Assistant General Manager, Peter Devoy describes the case as ‘significant exploitation’, and he’s pleased with the strong deterrence message the sentences send.

“The exploitation of migrant workers by paying them less than minimum wage, forcing them to work excessive hours and threatening their visa status – such as happened in this case – is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated by Immigration New Zealand.”

“This is happening all too often in NZ, and we won’t stand by and let it happen. Where there is evidence, we will investigate and prosecute.”

Also Read: https://www.newsviews.co.nz/subway-dargaville-fined-for-worker-exploitation/




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