Auckland liquor stores ordered to pay $100k fine for migrant exploitation

An Auckland liquor store company has lost its appeal and will have to pay a fine of $100,000 for failing to pay migrant workers their minimum wage and holiday pay entitlements.

Last year Shalini Limited was fined by the Employment Court after it was found to have exploited seven migrant employees who worked as retail assistants at two of its liquor stores, and one dairy.

It was taken to the ERA by the Labour Inspectorate

The company challenged the ruling on three grounds, including the fact that it had agreed to repay nearly $97,000 in minimum wage and holiday pay arrears to the workers.

But it has since lost its appeal.

Loua Ward, Labour Inspectorate regional manager, says worker exploitation can never be justified, no matter the financial circumstances of a company.

“Not only does exploitation violate workers' rights and their personal dignity, it also allows some businesses to gain a commercial advantage over employers who are committed to doing the right thing by their people and meeting their legal obligations,” says Ms Ward.

“The inspectorate is concerned about non-compliance in the liquor retail industry and is working with sector leaders such as franchisors who need to audit and monitor their franchisees to uphold compliance with the law from the top down.”

The inspectorate says it is also engaging with licencing authorities and liquor suppliers about their ongoing role to prevent exploitation within the industry.