Saturday, June 15, 2024

Café cops second fine for labour law breaches

Spring’s Junction Café and Motor Inn based in South Island, and its director has been ordered to pay $36,000 in penalties after breaching multiple minimum employment standards during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s the second adverse decision for the company, which was penalised for similar offences in 2016.

Simon Humphries, Head of Compliance & Enforcement, Labour Inspectorate, said the latest penalties imposed on Springs Junction Café and Motor Inn Ltd, should serve as a warning to other businesses considering taking advantage of vulnerable workers.

The Employment Relations Authority found Springs Junction Café and Motor Inn Ltd, and its director Jerry Hohneck, had been involved in 22 breaches of employment standards by failing to pay an employee minimum wage including holiday pay and for inadequate record keeping. The employee had been told by Hohneck to stop recording the hours they worked.

The Labour Inspectorate found there had been no written agreement about a reduction of hours the employee could work and that payments made to the employee suggested the wage subsidy was simply passed on to the employee.

The Employment Relations Authority said a deliberate failure to pay an employee wage for work carried out “is exploitation and is serious”. 

“Employers may find that workers who are in a vulnerable situation will agree to working conditions that are less than required by law, but this never excuses exploitation,” Mr Humphries said.

“Accurate record keeping is a fundamental requirement of all employers and any decision to stop keeping records is inexcusable.

“The Inspectorate believes it is important for the public to be aware of cases like this where employers knowingly exploit workers who in many cases are vulnerable migrants,” he said.

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