Major exploitation sting at dozens of Auckland businesses sees at least 12 infringement notices issued

The Labour Inspectorate has carried out a large-scale operation at 85 Auckland businesses to check for potential migrant exploitation and minimum employment standards are being met. 

As a result of the operation, 12-15 infringement notices will be issued which could lead to some accredited employers being placed on the standdown list. 

It comes after Newshub broke news of the investigation after finding dozens of migrants crammed into two unsanitary and overcrowded homes in Papakura.

The three-day operation, carried out jointly with Immigration Compliance and Investigations, followed formal complaints being lodged against retail and hospitality businesses spread across Auckland. 

Exploited migrants being kicked out of emergency housing
Exploited migrants being kicked out of emergency housing Photo credit: Photo - Newshub

Head of Compliance and Enforcement for the Labour Inspectorate Simon Humphries said the operation had been valuable in helping gauge levels of compliance by Auckland businesses operating in the retail and hospitality sectors. 

“We take migrant exploitation seriously. This operation is a tangible example of that commitment to follow up on alleged breaches of minimum employment standards and exploitative practices.” 

Humpries said while the intent was to educate, people also need to be held accountable for deliberately exploiting migrants. 

“Our focus was on ensuring employers were complying with minimum employment standards by paying people the right minimum wage, holiday pay, leave entitlements and maintaining proper record keeping practices,” Humphries said. 

High levels of non-compliance were found at the 85 businesses visited. 

Some of the breaches uncovered included; wages below the minimum wage rate being paid, no employment contracts for employees, employee holiday and leave entitlements being withheld, breaches of visa conditions and employers demanding money from employees. 

Humphries said enforcement action will be taken against businesses where issues of “deliberate non-compliance and exploitative practices” were uncovered. 

He said Immigration New Zealand and the Labour Inspectorate are working with migrant communities to keep them safe from those who exploit the conditions of their work visas.