A Christchurch dairy and its owners have been fined $85,000 after an employee was underpaid more than $103,000 over four years, and forced to work up to 92 hours a week.
It is one of the highest amounts of money owed to a single worker in recent years, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said today.
The store - Indy Supa of Shirley - has been ordered by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) to pay $61,000 in fines, while owners Kavita and Mayurkumar Tailor have also been ordered to pay a further $24,000.
An investigation by the Inspectorate found that between March 2013 and February 2017, the staff member often worked 92 hours per week, was paid below minimum wage or the correct amount of annual leave and holiday pay, and accurate time and leave records were not being kept.
Labour Inspectorate regional manager Jeanie Borsboom said, "The employee was physically and mentally strained, telling us he worked these hours without breaks, couldn’t use the washroom and struggled to sleep".
Ms Borsboom said the Tailors disputed claims the staff member was paid below minimum wage and "went to the extent of providing false reconstructed records as evidence in the investigation".
"A message from the employee was also sent to Ms Tailor, requesting lessened hours and better treatment. Mr Tailor then pressured the employee to retract the message and relied on the retraction to claim the employee's complaints were untrue," she said.
"It was clear from all evidence that the employee feared for his treatment and wellbeing. Migrant workers are an important part of New Zealand society and this treatment is completely unacceptable."