New Zealand Law Society - Ex-sports star’s business underpaid workers by thousands

Ex-sports star’s business underpaid workers by thousands

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A boutique car-washing business in Auckland has 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.

“Keeping proper employment records, providing written employment agreements, and correctly paying holiday pay are some of the basics of being an employer in New Zealand,” says Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Loua Ward.

“The Labour Inspectorate does not tolerate employers failing to provide employees with their minimum employment entitlements, and we will ensure that employers who continue to breach their obligations face consequences.”

The investigation found 37 employees were not provided with employment agreements, 13 employees were given ’90 day trial letters’ in lieu of contracts, and another six employees had employment agreements with no dates.

The systemic nature of the breaches meant that 97 employees, the majority being migrants, were affected.

MBIE says an Improvement Notice was issued to Car-Fé Ltd in October 2016 to correct their employment practices and pay back the arrears owed to the employees due to the incorrect payment of holiday pay.

It says Car-Fé has since provided proof to the Inspectorate that the business now has compliant wage, time, holiday and leave records, and employment agreements.

“While we are pleased that Car-Fe has gone on to pay their employees the arrears owed to them, we are disappointed to find these breaches in the first place,” says Ms Ward.

Car-Fé’s valet services can cost up to $200, with similar-priced extras. It also has a café selling frittatas and gourmet hot pot pies for customers.    

Ridge played for the Manly Sea Eagles for six years before joining the New Zealand Warriors in 1997 and turned out 25 times for the Kiwis. After retiring he starred in several television shows, mainly with fellow former league player, Marc Ellis.