New Zealand Law Society - Auto valet firm punished for failing to pay staff properly

Auto valet firm punished for failing to pay staff properly

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An auto valet in South Auckland has been ordered to pay $241,451 in penalties and arrears after a Labour Inspectorate investigation found serious breaches of employment law.

“For six years or more Manukau Auto Valet Ltd deprived some 221 employees of their most basic employment entitlements, failing to pay at least a minimum wage, or holiday pay to employees leaving the company,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Loua Ward.

“The Labour Inspectorate takes these kinds of breaches very seriously as not only did the employer breach the rights of the people working for them, they also attempted to gain an unfair advantage over their law abiding competitors.”

The company has paid $96,451 in arrears to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) for the 221 employees, and has been ordered to pay a further $145,000 in penalties after the Inspectorate successfully took the case to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Manukau Auto Valet Ltd director and major shareholder Dharmesh Kumar pleaded ignorance, however the ERA agreed with the Labour Inspectorate’s position that this was not a mitigating factor.

This was reinforced by ERA authority member Vicky Campbell saying it is the obligation of all employers to understand and adhere to the law.

“The Labour Inspectorate will not hesitate to pursue employers who fail to provide such long standing requirements of New Zealand law for penalties which reflect the seriousness of their failures,” says Ms Ward.

Last month, it was revealed a boutique car-washing business in Auckland had paid $35,151 in arrears to almost 100 employees after being found of multiple breaches of employment law.

Car-Fé Ltd – which is owned by former Rugby League star and television personality Matthew Ridge – underpaid holiday pay, failed to keep proper wage, time and holiday records, or provide employment agreements.