Bay of Plenty kiwifruit business stung for underpaying staff

Bay of Plenty kiwifruit business stung for underpaying staff

A Bay of Plenty kiwifruit contracting business has to pay $226,000 for breaching employment law, but some people the company owes money to could no longer be in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment investigated Freemind Enterprize Ltd following a complaint by a former worker.

It was found the company didn't have written employment agreements, wage and time or holiday records for 121 employees between 2009 and 2013.

The affected workers, hired to pick kiwifruit, were also not given their holiday pay and time-and-a-half for working public holidays.

One employee was also denied minimum wages.

The company, directed by Gurmail Lally, has been ordered by the Employment Relations Authority to pay $161,343.67 plus interest in arrears to the workers.

It was also fined $65,000 for the breaches.

The ERA's decision lists all of the workers who are affected and owed money.

But Labour Inspectorate regional manager Natalie Gardiner says it is possible some of those hired by the company were temporary migrants and may no longer live in New Zealand.

"The Inspectorate recognises that migrants are a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce and may often be reluctant to take action against their employer.

"This case makes it clear that failure by employers to provide such workers with all entitlements will not be tolerated," she says.

MBIE says those named in the decision should call their contact centre on 0800 20 90 20 with their IRD number and contact details.