Posted on: Nov 08, 2013

On 25 October, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate served freezing orders which were granted by the Employment Court, on three companies operating Auckland convenience and liquor stores owing over $200,000 for breaches of employment law.  It is the first time the Labour Inspectorate has used section 190 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 in attempt to secure outstanding wage and holiday pay and penalties.

In August the Employment Relations Authority issued a determination against the companies operating as Civic Convenience, Symonds Liquor and Sky Liquor after receiving a complaint from 11 migrant workers. The companies share the same sole director Mr Ala’a Bader.

The Authority stated that the breaches were serious and ordered the companies to pay a total of $211,574.33. This includes outstanding minimum wage and holiday payments and penalties for breaches of the Minimum Wage Act 1983, Holidays Act 2003 and the Employment Relations Act 2000.

Labour Inspectorate Northern Regional Manager David Milne says the companies have acknowledged some holiday pay liabilities and made a payment of a little over $2000 to the Authority, with the remaining funds yet to be paid.

“It has come to the Labour Inspectorate’s notice that Symonds Liquor has recently been sold for an amount exceeding what is owed,” Mr Milne says.

“The Labour Inspectorate applied to the Employment Court for the freezing orders, which were granted. The order has now been served and has frozen the companies’ assets. This includes the proceeds from the sale of Symonds Liquor.”

Mr Milne says the order prevents the companies from removing these assets from New Zealand.

“The Labour Inspectorate will not hesitate to prosecute breaches of minimum employment, reclaim money owed to workers and ensure that penalties are paid. If the Inspectorate needs to go as far as freezing employers’ assets to ensure that happens then we will have no hesitation in doing so.”

The freezing orders were due to expire on Monday 4 November 2013, however we have not yet heard if the Employment Court has determined that the orders are to be continued or not.

“The exploitation of workers is not welcome and breaches New Zealand law,” Mr Milne says.

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment


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