Waikato cleaning company fined $37k for exploiting staff

A Waikato company and its director have been ordered to pay $37,500 for exploiting six members of its staff.

Jagran Property Services Limited, which operates Crew Care Commercial Cleaning and Green Acres Mobile Care Valet, charged one woman a fee to support her work visa.

A Labour Inspectorate investigation found Jagran and its owner Jagendra Prasad failed to pay minimum wage and holiday pay, keep accurate records and that it charged an employee a premium to have a work visa.

These breaches left employees out of pocket and one employee concerned about her visa status, said Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Natalie Gardiner.

"While arrears have now been paid, the employee that made the complaint was made to survive for an extended period of time with little earnings for many hours of work.

"This non-compliant business model meant Jagran's employees were exploited while his business benefited," she said

Ms Gardiner said the case sent a message to larger companies and franchise operations to monitor their business models.

"Non-compliant business models should be monitored from the very top of the supply chain.

"It's important that businesses are able to provide assurance to consumers that their operating model has its workers' treatment at front of mind.

"Cleaners are around us every day but can often be an invisible, and the most vulnerable, workforce.

"Cases like this should send a message to consumers to think carefully about worker pay and conditions when hiring a service such as home or office cleaning. Breaches put law abiding businesses at a disadvantage as they cannot compete on prices," she said.

"Migrant workers are a particularly vulnerable section of the workforce, as they're less likely to be aware of their rights and entitlements and can be concerned regarding their visa status.

"Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand, and the Inspectorate works with Immigration NZ and other government agencies as part of a whole-of-government approach to combat migrant exploitation."

Jagran underpaid the six workers by more than $17,000, failing to pay minimum wage and holiday pay.

The Government yesterday announced researchers will conduct more work on immigrant exploitation and recommend policy changes next year.

rnz.co.nz

A Waikato company and its director have been ordered to pay $37,500 for exploiting six members of its staff. Source: istock.com