Rotorua kebab shop Just Kebabs fined $73,000 for not paying hard-working employee the minimum wage

"It is not acceptable for workers to come to New Zealand to seek a better life, and then be under paid, over worked, and ...
STEPHANE MAHE

"It is not acceptable for workers to come to New Zealand to seek a better life, and then be under paid, over worked, and deprived of their most basic rights as employees in this country," the ERA said.

A Rotorua kebab shop has been fined for failing to pay an employee who worked 78 hours a week the minimum wage or holiday pay.

Just Kebab Limited have been ordered by The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) to pay a $40,000 penalty and $33,661 in arrears to an employee for failing to pay minimum wage, holiday pay, or keep accurate employment records.

The employee, Yusuf Corten, will receive half of the $40,000 penalty.

Just Kebabs in Rotorua has been sold and renamed Turkish Kebabs 2 Go. The company is now operating in Christchurch.
BENN BATHAGTE/FAIRFAX NZ

Just Kebabs in Rotorua has been sold and renamed Turkish Kebabs 2 Go. The company is now operating in Christchurch.

Just Kebab Limited operated a Kebab shop called "Just Kebabs" in Rotorua.

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Its main shareholders and directors are Ziya Dayioglu and Osman Efendi.

Yusuf Corten worked 78 hours a week at Just Kebabs.
CHRISTIAN HARTMANN

Yusuf Corten worked 78 hours a week at Just Kebabs.

​A worker in the Rotorua store, now called Turkish Kebabs 2 Go, on Wednesday said Dayioglu no longer owned it and now lived in the South Island.

"He won't be back," he said. "He's in the South Island."

The Companies Office also shows the business is now registered in Christchurch.

The failure to pay minimum rates occurred for a period of almost 8 months.
ISTOCK

The failure to pay minimum rates occurred for a period of almost 8 months.

Court documents reveal Corten, a Turkish immigrant and experienced chef, arrived in New Zealand in 2011 and began working at the kebab shop in Rotorua in February 2013.

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His employment agreement stated that he was to work 40 hours per week and be paid $18 per hour.

However, in reality he ended up working six days a week and on average 13 hours a day. He received $720 a week paid in cash or cheque for that work.

"Corten said he was very tired and took no holidays during the period he worked at the restaurant," the documents reveal.

He left in September 2013 after a disagreement with Efendi over an accident he had at work.

Corten felt that Just Kebabs was not acting in accordance with the law, but when he raised matters with Efendi, he was threatened and told that his visa may be in jeopardy. 

After leaving, Corten complained to the Labour Inspector and an investigation began.

It found that Corten was not paid the minimum wage, had not been paid wages at the rate of time and a half when he worked on public holidays, had not been provided alternative holidays when he worked on a public holiday nor payment of holiday pay for the alternative holidays in lieu. 

Further, that Just Kebab had not kept wage and time records or leave records Corten.

"The failure to pay minimum rates occurred for a period of almost 8 months, which is a lengthy period of time," Authority member Anna Fitzgibbon said.

"Mr Corten felt his work visa may be threatened if he complained. Mr Corten was in a vulnerable position." 

Labour Inspectorate General Manager George Mason said the ruling was in line with the Court's decision $100,000 in penalties against two South Island liquor store and dairy owners, who had been found to have committed serious breaches of employment law by the Labour Inspectorate.

"The Labour Inspectorate will not tolerate employers who fail to provide their employees with their minimum employment entitlements such as minimum wage or holiday pay," Mason said.

"The recent decision from the Employment Court upholds the Inspectorate's position that where there are multiple, sustained and serious breaches, employers should receive penalties that reflect the gravity of their actions.

"It is not acceptable for workers to come to New Zealand to seek a better life, and then be under paid, over worked, and deprived of their most basic rights as employees in this country.

"The Employment Court's decision should serve as a warning to any employer who is breaking the law that these kinds of breaches will be highly penalised."

Mason said they took breaches of employment standards very seriously.

"It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure they provide employees with their minimum employment entitlements and meet all their obligations."

 - Stuff

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