Penalties against Christchurch restaurant owners who underpaid workers rise after they sell business

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has increased the penalty for a Christchurch business after they sold the offending business and started a new one.

Employment Relations Authority

The ERA said in a release today that the Noori family and their business Indian Heaven Ltd must now pay $118,799 in penalties, as well as the $41,688 in minimum wage and holiday pay arrears.

Earlier this year husband and wife Sayed and Najima Noori, as well as their daughter Fatima Noori, were ordered to pay to wages to seven former workers of two Christchurch restaurants they operated.

The ERA noted that the $41,688 is still outstanding.

Following the ruling, the Nooris sold their two Indian Heaven restaurants and set up a new business, which is operating as Kabul Kebab on Selwyn Street.

"Employers cannot avoid their legal obligations by selling their business," Labour Inspectorate regional manager Jeanie Borsboom said.

"Employment law allows Inspectors to pursue employers personally for penalties and money owed to workers, even if their business no longer exists."

The Noori family remain personally liable to pay $47,199 of the penalties, as well the total amount of the arrears.

"This determination also sends a strong message that if employers continue to ignore their obligations, including not paying determined wage arrears, they risk significantly higher penalties – in this case nearly three times higher than the arrears owed to the exploited workers," Ms Borsboom said.

"Consumers also have a role to play in upholding employment standards by voting with their feet - they should consider how businesses treat their employees and meet their obligations before buying from them."