8 Sep 2015

Chef paid $40 for two months' work

6:23 pm on 8 September 2015

Two managers of a popular Indian restaurant chain in Auckland have admitted exploiting workers, including paying a chef $40 for two months' work.

Joti Jain and Rajwinder Singh Grewal lost name suppression after appearing in the Auckland District Court today, where they admitted charges of misleading immigration officers and exploiting workers by failing to pay the minimum wage and holiday pay.

Managers of a popular Indian restaurant chain have admitted to exploiting workers.

Managers of a popular Indian restaurant chain have admitted to exploiting workers. Photo: 123RF

Jain and Grewal were involved in the management of the chain which had outlets in Bucklands Beach, Mission Bay and Takapuna.

According to the summary of facts, Jain was the director of two companies which employed workers at the Masala restaurants. Those two companies are now in liquidation.

One waiter, who was in the country illegally, was employed by the company and was promised help with getting a visa.

He was told he would not be paid for the first two weeks while he was trained at the Bucklands Beach outlet and then was shifted to the Mission Bay restaurant. Once there he was told there were different systems and he needed to train for a further two weeks without pay.

The man was given free accommodation at a unit next door to the restaurant where 10 other Masala workers lived.

The waiter worked 11 hour days, six and sometimes seven days a week, and was paid $250 a week.

At one point, Jain told him he was not working hard enough and she would not help him get a visa.

The man completed a visa application. He was also given an employment agreement by Jain, promising him $16 an hour as an assistant restaurant manager and a working week of between 30 and 40 hours a week.

However, the offer was false.

When the man's visa was rejected, Jain suggested he enter into a relationship with a colleague who did have a visa.

The man refused and eventually left the restaurant. An assessment by a labour inspector found he was paid $2.64 an hour.

Ordered to clean

Another waitress - with a diploma in business management - was ordered to clean Jain's home. The woman worked 11 hours a day for six days a week and was paid a little over $201 a week.

But she was told to submit false timesheets for immigration purposes.

Again the bosses told her they would help her get a visa. She was actually only being paid about $3 an hour. The woman was also told to clean Jain's home for 11 hours.

That home is in the leafy Auckland suburb of Remuera, and according to the council website has a capital value of $2.75 million.

The woman was promised help with a two-year work visa and given a false job offer of assistant restaurant manager. That included a pay rate of $15 an hour for a 30 or 40 hour week but, again it was a false offer.

Another chef was also paid $40 for two months' work.

He was given accommodation and worked six days a week from 10.30am to 11pm with a two or three-hour break in the middle of the day.

He was also promised help with immigration.

The man worked a total of about two months at two separate Masala restaurants and was paid a total of $40, despite being promised a contract of $500 a week

The Ministry of Business and Innovation and Employment is seeking more than $58,000 in reparation payments for the workers.

Jain and Grewal are due to be sentenced next month.