Pegasus Energy, which operated as a BP station in Hastings, has been ordered to pay upwards of $132,000 in arrears to two ex-staff members and $120,000 in penalties.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says the employees were not paid the minimum wage or holiday pay.
The seriousness of the breaches resulted in sole director Jag Rawat being personally liable for a further $24,000 in penalties.
“It’s alarming to see a franchisee operating under such a well-established brand mistreat and underpay their staff. Whether a company is a small business or a larger one such as this, the Labour Inspectorate will hold employers to account,” Labour Inspectorate regional manager Loua Ward says.
“These employees …. were subjected to unlawful premiums being deducted from their pay and were at times working up to 16 hour shifts, with lesser hours falsely recorded in the business’s records.”
Ms Ward says the two workers were made to live in accommodation provided by Mr Rawat and pay excessive amounts in rent, despite having to sleep on the floor.
“The employees continuously received threats from Mr Rawat saying that he would cancel their visas and they’d be forced to leave New Zealand if they spoke up about the mistreatment. Mr Rawat also threatened trouble in the employees’ home countries on their return.
“Migrant workers are vulnerable in New Zealand and may not always be aware of their rights, or may be taken advantage of, which we’ve seen in this case. Mr Rawat saw himself in a position of power, and used this to his employees’ detriment,” says Ms Ward.
MBIE says Mr Rawat previously pleaded guilty to eight charges in the Napier District Court relating to falsifying immigration documents and misleading Immigration New Zealand.