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Bottle shop business slammed with $200k judgement for failure to pay minimum wage

Seven migrants who were employed in Auckland liquor stores will be paid over $96,000 after their employer was investigated by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Shalini Limited, a business that operated liquor stores and a dairy in Auckland, was ordered to pay $100,000 in penalties as well as $96,542.34 in minimum wage and holiday pay arrears to the seven workers.

A complaint was made in 2017 relating to retail assistants working in Lifeline Dairy, Grafton Liquor Spot and Bottle-O in Parakai.

The evidence before the ERA showed the employees consistently worked long hours and did not receive their minimum wage and holiday pay entitlements, including not being paid correctly for work on public holidays.

Since 2012, more than 60 investigations into liquor retail businesses have been completed by the inspectorate, including those trading under large franchise brands.

The inspectorate is currently investigating 12 liquor stores trading under the Bottle-O franchise.

“We are deeply concerned about the trend of local liquor shops breaching employment standards, seemingly with no regard for the law,” says Labour Inspectorate National Manager Stuart Lumsden.

“Many are part of recognised brands, which appear to have no effective measures in place to provide assurance that legal requirements are being met.

“Franchise owners and associations need to take steps to ensure businesses trading under their brand are applying lawful and ethical practices. If they don’t, one non-compliant business can create a bad name for the whole franchise. Owners should be very clear about what and who they are branded with.

“In addition, retailing liquor is a closely licensed activity. How anybody can meet the necessary character requirements to hold a liquor licence while at the same time exploiting their workers is a question licensing authorities might want to consider,” Mr Lumsden says.

The Labour Inspectorate took enforcement action against Shalini in 2016, but the complaint received in 2017 and the subsequent investigation showed the business continued to breach the minimum employment standards.

MBIE encourages anyone concerned about the employment situation of themselves or someone they know to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20, where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.

A file image of a judge's gavel. Source: 1 NEWS