Company penalised $100K for exploiting workers

Employees consistently worked long hours and did not receive their minimum wage and holiday pay entitlements

Company penalised $100K for exploiting workers

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has ordered Shalini Limited, a business that operated liquor stores and a dairy in Auckland, to pay $100,000 in penalties.

Shalini will separately repay $96,542.34 in minimum wage and holiday pay arrears to seven migrant workers.

After receiving a complaint in 2017, the Labour Inspectorate conducted an investigation into Shalini’s employment practices.

The evidence showed the employees consistently worked long hours and did not receive their minimum wage and holiday pay entitlements, including not being paid correctly for work on public holidays.

The investigation related to seven retail assistants working in Lifeline Dairy, Grafton Liquor Spot and Bottle-O in Parakai.

From 2012, more than 60 investigations into liquor retail businesses have been completed by the Inspectorate, including those trading under large franchise brands.

The Inspectorate is also currently investigating 12 liquor stores trading under the Bottle-O franchise.

National Manager Labour Inspectorate, Stuart Lumsden, said the trend of local liquor shops breaching employment standards, seemingly with no regard for the law, is “deeply concerning”.

“Many are part of recognised brands which appear to have no effective measures in place to provide assurance that legal requirements are being met,” said Lumsden.

“Franchise owners and associations need to take steps to ensure businesses trading under their brand are applying lawful and ethical practices.”

If they don’t, one non-compliant business can create a bad name for the whole franchise, added Lumsden.

“Owners should be very clear about what and who they are branded with.
 he said.

“In addition, retailing liquor is a closely licensed activity. How anybody can meet the necessary character requirements to hold a liquor licence while at the same time exploiting their workers is a question licensing authorities might want to consider.

Moreover, this isn’t Shalini’s first offence. The Labour Inspectorate took enforcement action against Shalini in 2016, but the complaint received in 2017 and the subsequent investigation showed the business continued to breach the minimum employment standards.

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