Rotorua company Vishnu Hospitality Limited, which trades as Lovely India restaurant, has been ordered to pay $10,000 for failing to keep accurate employment records, and subsequently failing to  provide those records when requested by the Labour Inspectorate. The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found that company director Nilin Patel’s cooperation with the Inspectorate’s inquiry was ‘grudging and partial’.

“Mr Patel was not able to provide us with employment records within the time set by legislation, which caused a hindrance to our Labour Inspector’s investigation,” said Labour Inspectorate National Manager Stu Lumsden. “Furthermore, Mr Patel put the onus of recording holiday and leave records for staff on a manager, and we later found that those records did not exist. The company, as the employing entity, is liable for the failure to meet minimum employment standards.

“The responsibility to ensure accurate employment records are kept lies solely with the employer, and where these aren’t provided in a timely manner, the Inspectorate will seek penalties though the ERA.”

Patel entered into mediation through Employment Mediation Services with the aim to discuss and agree on what arrears were owed to staff, in the absence of legally required physical records. Patel then independently arranged settlements of wage arrears with his employees. The ERA deemed this to be a ‘less costly option’ for Patel, and that he had showed ‘no real remorse’ demonstrated for breaching his employees’ minimum employment rights.

“The ERA took these factors, and Mr Patel’s treatment of the investigation into account when handing down penalties,” said Lumsden. “His lengthy non-compliance meant the investigation spanned over 12 months.”