Exploitation: Auckland car-wash pays $35,151 to migrant employees

A car washing business, called Car-Fe Limited, in Auckland has paid $35,151 in arrears to 97 employees following a Labour Inspectorate investigation which found multiple breaches of employment law. The company's sole director, according to the Companies Office, is former All Blacks star Matthew Ridge. The investigation revealed that Car-Fe Limited underpaid holiday pay, failed to keep proper wage, time and holiday records, or provide employment agreements.

“Keeping proper employment records, providing written employment agreements, and correctly paying holiday pay are some of the basics of being an employer in New Zealand,” said Labour Inspectorate Regional Manager Loua Ward.

“The Labour Inspectorate does not tolerate employers failing to provide employees with their minimum employment entitlements, and we will ensure that employers who continue to breach their obligations face consequences.”

The investigation found 37 employees were not provided with employment agreements, 13 employees were given ’90 day trial letters’ in lieu of contracts, and another six employees had employment agreements with no dates.

The systemic nature of the breaches meant that 97 employees, the majority being migrants, were affected.

An Improvement Notice was issued to Car-Fe Limited in October 2016 to correct their employment practices and pay back the arrears owed to the employees due to the incorrect payment of holiday pay.

Car-Fe Limited has since provided proof to the Inspectorate that the business now has compliant wage, time, holiday and leave records, and employment agreements.

As of March 1, 2017, the Improvement Notice conditions have been complied with and all arrears owed to employees have been paid.

“Migrant workers have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand, but are often more vulnerable to unacceptable work practices as many are less likely to be aware of their rights and entitlements."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment encourages anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the situation of someone they know, to call its contact centre on 0800 20 90 20 where their concerns will be handled in a safe environment.