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Auckland restaurant ordered to pay nearly $50,000 for exploiting migrant worker

An Auckland restaurant and its owners have been ordered to pay nearly $50,000 for exploiting a migrant worker.

Cooking food in restaurant kitchen Source: istock.com

The worker had been asked to make a premium payment in order to secure her work visa application, and had also been underpaid.

A Labour Inspectorate investigation into Dansan Investments, which operates Saaj Indian Cuisine, uncovered the exploitations.

The court heard how the worker had been told to make a $6000 payment to her employers to secure an application for her work visa. Without that payment she was told the work visa would not be supported.

An employment agreement also identified a pay discrepancy.

The agreement said the employee would work a minimum of 35 hours a week, when she worked between 40 and 65.5 hours a week, and was only paid for between 28 and 33 hours a week.

The employers also did not make any holiday payments, and didn’t pay time and a half for work completed on public holidays.

Dansan Investments’ two directors, Mary George Varghese and Sheik Abdul Kader, are also personally liable for the payment.

Along with $32,000 owed in wage arrears, one third of the $16,100 in penalties is to be paid directly to the exploited worker.

“This is yet another example of an employer using their position of power to exploit a migrant worker, who relies on them for a work visa and their right to continue to live and work in New Zealand,” says Labour Inspectorate national manager Stu Lumsden.

Lumsden says migrants to New Zealand should never have to pay a premium. 

“For employers to demand such a payment is illegal. To exploit migrant workers is completely unacceptable, and the Labour Inspectorate will take full compliance action against employers who do this.

“The ERA also made it very clear that this type of offending will not be tolerated by the authority.”

MBIE says this is not the first time that Dansan Investments Limited has been investigated by the Labour Inspectorate.

In 2015, a former employee complained about not being paid minimum entitlements which saw an improvement notice issued by the inspectorate, which wasn’t adhered to by Dansan.