New Zealand Law Society - Massive penalty for serious breaches of employment law

Massive penalty for serious breaches of employment law

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A labour contracting business working on a vegetable farm in the Bombay Hills must pay $428,164 in arrears and penalties for breaches of employment law, following a Labour Inspectorate investigation.

Binde Enterprises Limited was ordered to pay $220,000 in penalties and $208,184 in arrears to its 75 employees by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) for its failure to pay minimum wage, provide holiday pay, or keep accurate wage or time records.

“The Inspectorate has zero tolerance for labour contractors who fail to meet the clear standards set out in New Zealand employment law,” says Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Kevin Finnegan.

“Taking advantage of vulnerable workers such as migrants, who may not know what their rights are in New Zealand, is taken very seriously by both the Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand.”

Concerns about Binde Enterprises Limited were first raised by the Inspectorate during a visit to a Sutherland Produce Ltd farm on 16 April 2015.

Interviews with several of Binde’s employees on the farm, where Binde held an exclusive labour supply agreement, led to the Inspectorate launching an investigation.

The Labour Inspectorate built a body of evidence called “overwhelming” and a “compelling case of migrant labour exploitation” by the ERA.

Sutherland pleaded guilty last year to four charges under the Immigration Act 2009 for allowing persons not entitled to work in its service, work, and was fined $7500.

“Not providing your employees with their basic legal entitlements such as a minimum wage or holiday pay, or keep employment records, is simply not acceptable” says Mr Finnegan.

“This case reinforces the importance for horticulturalists to ensure contractors that they bring on to their property are meeting employment standards.

“Those who use contract labour should keep in mind if the price is too good someone is being short changed. By not undertaking due diligence they risk their brand, or even potential legal liability.”

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