Bakery Owner Ordered to Pay for Wage Violations

After failing to pay workers the correct wages, holiday and sick leave pay, a Dunedin bakery owner has been ordered to pay almost $300,000.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ordered the owner of Romeeco Bakery, Anesly Joy Samuel, to pay $299,038 in arrears and penalties after a Labour Inspectorate investigation found he had breached the Employment Relations Act, the Minimum Wage Act and the Holidays Act.

Samuel was ordered to pay penalties of $139,000 to the Crown and a total of $19,000 to the three employees. He was also ordered to pay $141,038.24 to the workers for arrears of minimum wage, annual and public holiday entitlements and sick leave.

According to ERA Southern regional manager, Jeanie Borsboom, the labour inspector found the workers were paid wages for 40 hours per week but were working in excess of 80 hours per week. This led to them being paid less than minimum wage across the total hours worked, she said.

In the released decision, the authority said timesheets were not kept, and one employee had been asked to provide “false and misleading information” on minimum wages, public holiday payments, annual holiday entitlement and work location to the Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand.

“The Labour Inspectorate argued that there were a number of aggravating features in this case that warranted the imposition of penalties at the higher end of the scale,” Borsboom said.

The authority declined a request for permanent non-publication of its determination, saying there was overwhelming public interest in compliance with, and enforcement of, minimum employment standards.

“Errant behaviour of the type exhibited in this determination should not be shielded from the public gaze by a conveniently constructed legal blanket.”