Continued focus on migrant worker exploitation

In our previous article on this topic, we wrote about Immigration New Zealand’s recent imposition of a one year migrant hiring ban on 82 Burger King Stores. The ban was imposed because the company was found to have breached the Minimum Wage Act 1983 by paying a salaried manager less than the minimum wage.

Immigration New Zealand has now prosecuted a Pizza Hut franchise owner on 25 charges relating to the exploitation of migrant workers, for offences ranging from not meeting minimum employment obligations, permitting or facilitating the breach of work visa conditions, misleading immigration officers and obtaining by deception. The offending was described as ‘calculating’ and ‘systematic’ and occurred over a period of 5 years in four separate Pizza Hut stores in the South Island. The employer in this case has been sentenced to nine months home detention, 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay $150,000 in victim reparation.

This prosecution comes as no surprise and highlights increasing efforts by Immigration New Zealand (via increased compliance funding) to identify and prosecute employers guilty of migrant worker exploitation. Convicted employers are also now held personally liable in these types of prosecutions, which prevent owners and directors from simply closing down businesses to avoid paying fines.

This case again clearly sends a strong message that migrant exploitation will not be tolerated and that employers must have robust systems in place to ensure they are complying with both immigration and employment laws.

In the past, we have suggested that despite the investigative and compliance powers vested upon Immigration New Zealand under governing legislation did not have the resources to investigate every compliant, or profile/prosecute every non compliant employer. In light of the increasing activity in this space, this view is quickly changing and we now urge all employers to continuously review their internal processes and systems to ensure that they are compliant, and if you are uncertain on any aspect or believe you may benefit from an immigration/employment compliance review/audit, we suggest you contact a member of Lane Neave’s Workplace Law Team for a confidential discussion.

Workplace Law team

If you have any queries in respect of the above, or any other Workplace Law issues, please contact a member of Lane Neave’s Workplace Law team:

Employment: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan, Gwen DrewittMaria Green,  Hannah Martin, Joseph HarropHolly StruckmanAlex Beal, Giuliana Petronelli, Abby Shieh
Immigration: Mark Williams, Rachael Mason, Daniel Kruger, Nicky Robertson, Julia StrickettKen Huang, Mary Zhou, Shi Sheng Cai (Shoosh)Sarah Kirkwood, Janeske SchutteLingbo Yu
ACC: Andrew Shaw
Health and Safety: Andrew ShawFiona McMillan

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