Investigation launched following $4-an-hour wage claims

An investigation has been launched by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment into an Auckland restaurant chain following complaints that workers are being paid less than $4-an-hour.

The investigation, led by the Ministry’s Labour Inspectorate, was launched after the Ministry received a significant number of individual complaints, with some workers alleging they get paid the “Indian salary” of $265-a-week for up to 70 hours’ work.

The complaints also include allegations of:

•          Workers not being paid any entitlements, such as holiday pay, public holiday payments or sick leave

•          Workers being required to pay between $10,000 and $20,000 in order to remain in their job while they obtain residence

•          Overcrowding conditions in accommodation provided for workers and illegal wage deductions for this accommodation

Labour Inspectorate Northern Manager David Milne says the investigation should serve as a warning to any business owners breaching minimum employment laws.

“Labour exploitation is not welcome in New Zealand and it is totally unacceptable if people are subject to this type of alleged behaviour. The Ministry will investigate and take action to the full extent available in law.

“For migrant business owners this could involve the ultimate consequence of deportation from New Zealand.”

The joint operation between the Ministry’s Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand involved visiting nine restaurants across Auckland, interviewing staff and requiring wage records for more than 100 staff.

The Ministry will analyse the evidence in the next fortnight before deciding next steps.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

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