The Taste of Egypt Ltd paid $91,000 in penalties and arrears owed to two workers to the Employment Court, pending their appeal, after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Labour Inspectorate issue a freezing order against the company and its directors.

An extensive investigation by the Labour Inspectorate last year found the Taste of Egypt’s Nelson restaurant failed to pay minimum wages or statutory holidays, and failed to provide annual leave to two migrant employees from India.

The two chefs worked in excess of 70 hours and were only paid for 30. The company also failed to keep adequate time and wage records in accordance with the Employment Act.

The Nelson restaurant has since been sold and the company is appealing the decision.

After becoming aware the company had sold their remaining Christchurch business, the Labour Inspectorate believed the directors were preparing to leave the country permanently or dissipate their assets.

An application was made to the Employment Court and a freezing order was granted in early April.

MBIE takes employment law breaches very seriously and is working proactively to crack down on it throughout the country,” said Labour Inspectorate Wellington regional manager Kevin Finnegan.

Employers who breach employment law will be subject to enforcement action. From 1 April 2016, most serious breaches can carry penalties of up to $50,000 for an individual and the greater of $100,000 or three times the financial gain for a company.