A Christchurch restaurant owner has been banned from being an employer and fined $112,800 after exploiting workers.
Amar Deep Singh was the director and shareholder of three companies: Jeet Holdings Ltd, Jeet Holdings No.2 and Jeet Holdings No.6 which exploited eight workers over an 11 year period.
On June 9, the Employment Court found all three companies in breach of the Minimum Wage Act 1983 by not paying employees statutory entitlements they were owed and failing to keep accurate time and wage records between 2007 and 2018.
Jeet No.6, which previously traded as Coriander’s Ethnic Indian Restaurant, was also found in breach of the Wages Protection Act 1983.
It comes after an investigation by the Labour Inspectorate found employees were routinely told to put fewer hours than they had worked on their timesheets.
The court found Singh acted with callousness and disregard for the welfare of his employees. He instructed them to complete false timesheets and when he thought he was going to be found out he attempted to cover up what was going on and derail the investigation. Singh left New Zealand in January 2019 and did not return for the hearing.
He was banned from entering into an employment agreement as an employer, being an officer of an employer or being involved in the hiring or employment of employees for two years. He was also fined $112,800 in penalties.
Jeet Holdings Ltd was ordered to pay penalties of $57,600, while penalties of $14,400 and $123,200 were imposed against Jeet Holdings No.2 and Jeet Holdings No.6 Ltd respectively.
Jeet Holdings Limited was ordered to pay $165,042.26 in compensation to the employees, while Jeet Holdings No.2 and Jeet Holdings No.6 had to pay $30,293 and $76,492.54 respectively.
Jeet Holdings No.2 and Jeet Holdings No.6 are both in liquidation.
Labour Inspectorate regional manager southern Jeanie Borsboom says the finding serves as a strong deterrent.
"Employment New Zealand provides free education and resources on employment rights, and works with industries and businesses to lift compliance. However, those who deliberately continue to deprive workers of their minimum employment rights, should not be employers."
The Coriander’s restaurants have been sold with new owners continuing with the trading name.
Anyone concerned about the employment situation of themselves or someone they know is advised to call our contact centre on 0800 20 90 20, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.