$43K pay-out following employment “premiums”

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A Christchurch company has been reprimanded by the ERA for its unethical employment practices after it forced one migrant worker to pay thousands of dollars in illicit premiums.

The case – which is just the latest in a string of exploitation cases – centres on former chef Kapilaben Patel, who paid bosses about $15,000 for a job offer at the Curry Pot restaurant as well as assistance with a work visa and residency application.

Evidence before the ERA indicated $5,000 was paid to Curry Pot four months before Patel began working for the restaurant and 11 days before an employment agreement was signed and provided to immigration New Zealand.

A string of other payments were also reported to have been paid in cash – payments which the ERA deemed were not made as an investment or for rent.

“Section 12A of the Wages Protection Act provides that no premium is to be charged for employment,” stressed member of the authority Helen Doyle.

“Section 12A(1) provides that no employer shall seek or receive any premium in respect of the employment of any person, whether the premium is sought or received from the person employed or proposed to be employed or from any other person,” she continued.

As a result, Doyle ordered Curry Pot to reimburse Patel to the tune of $11,400 – however, further breaches by the employer pushed the pay-out even higher.

The ERA was provided with evidence of time sheet records and found Patel was owed a notable $31,413.19 in unpaid wages, holiday pay and for working on statutory holidays.

Ultimately, Curry Pot bosses were ordered to compensate former chef Patel a total of $42,813.19.

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