A Hamilton dealer and importer has been ordered to pay $65,000 in penalties by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) after a Labour Inspectorate investigation found employment breaches.
Direct Auto Importers (NZ) Ltd and Cheap Deals on Wheels Limited had both failed to pay employees minimum wage and correct holiday pay. The companies also didn’t supply employment agreements or records.
Vishaal Sharma, the sole director and shareholder of both companies, claimed the staff members were contractors, and he therefore didn’t owe them minimum employment entitlements.
This claim was strongly rejected by the Labour Inspectorate and the ERA.
“An employer cannot avoid their obligations by simply calling their employees ‘contractors’, and any attempts to do so will not be tolerated by the Inspectorate,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Loua Ward.
“All employees in New Zealand must be provided with written employment agreements and their minimum employment entitlements, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. If an employer cannot meet these basic obligations, then they should not be an employer.”
Ward said that as Direct Auto Imports (NZ) has previously been charged with $17,996 in arrears by the ERA, Sharma should have been aware of his obligations as an employer, and “ignorance is not an acceptable excuse.”
Direct Auto Importers (NZ) Ltd was penalised $50,000 for failing to provide holiday pay, written employment agreements and wage, holiday and leave records for three employees. The ERA ordered further $726 in arrears to be paid to two staff members for working on public holidays and holiday pay owed.
Cheap Deals on Wheels Ltd was penalised $15,000 for similar offences.
The authority has also set aside $10,000 in penalties to be provided to three former employees of the two companies.