Matthew Ridge's carwash exploited migrant employees

Former All Blacks star Matthew Ridge's car washing business in Auckland has paid $35,151 in arrears to 97 employees - the majority being migrant workers.

The investigation by the Labour Inspectorate found multiple breaches of employment law by Car-Fe Limited, including failing to provide correct holiday pay, keep proper wage, time and holiday records, or provide employment agreements.

Car-Fe Limited was founded by Mr Ridge, who continues to act as managing director, its website says. Mr Ridge is listed as Car-Fe Limited's sole director, Companies Office records show.

The Labour Inspectorate launched its investigation after two Indian car groomers complained they were bullied, harassed, and paid incorrectly by Mr Ridge, NZME reports.

The pair sought reimbursement for their lost wages and holiday pay entitlements, and also lodged a complaint with the Employment Relations Authority.

At the time, Car-Fe manager Yadwinder Singh told NZME the allegations were "without any merit and in our opinion amount to blackmail and extortion".

"Car-Fe Ltd looks forward to a favourable outcome by continuing to follow the correct channels and procedures as set out under NZ law," he said.

However, an investigation found 37 employees were not provided with employment agreements, 13 employees were given '90 day trial letters' in lieu of contracts, and another six employees had employment agreements with no dates.

"The Labour Inspectorate does not tolerate employers failing to provide employees with their minimum employment entitlements, and we will ensure that employers who continue to breach their obligations face consequences," says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Loua Ward.

"Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand, but are often more vulnerable to unacceptable work practices as many are less likely to be aware of their rights and entitlements.

"While we are pleased that Car-Fe has gone on to pay their employees the arrears owed to them, we are disappointed to find these breaches in the first place.

"This case is a good reminder to employers to do their due diligence when it comes to keeping records, providing employment contracts, and correctly paying holiday pay, as failure to do so can damage both your brand and your bank balance."

Car-Fe Limited has been contacted for comment.