Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Sikh Underpaid Woman Wins Employment Rights Battle: Gets NZ$8,000 Payout

by Manjari Singh

In a landmark decision, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) in New Zealand has ruled in favor of Bhupinder Kaur, a Sikh cafe manager, who fought against her former employer for failing to pay her according to the correct hourly rate. The victory came after a prolonged legal battle that sheds light on the importance of upholding employment rights.

Kaur, who dedicated two-and-a-half years to the Village Green Cafe in Havelock North, faced an uphill battle. She opted not to take annual leave during her tenure due to insufficient staff to cover her absence, reported stuff.co.nz. However, when she approached the company’s director, Joga Singh Chamber, regarding unpaid wages, her pleas were met with indifference.

Upon closer examination of her payslips post-employment, Kaur discovered discrepancies in her annual holiday pay and the corresponding hourly rates. The ERA, in its recent decision, recalculated Kaur’s entitlements based on her average weekly wage of NZ$862.02, determining an owed amount of NZ$8,919.28. Deducting the amount already paid, the final figure awarded to Kaur was NZ$5,596.04.

ERA member Natasha Szeto underscored the company’s failure to maintain accurate wage and time records, a violation of the Employment Relations Act, the Wages Protection Act, and the Holidays Act. Szeto emphasized that this breach was aggravated by the apparent intentional miscalculation of Kaur’s pay rate.

The ERA’s ruling mandated the firm to pay Kaur NZ$5,596.04 for holiday pay, NZ$840.41 in wage arrears, and interest totaling NZ$361.37. In addition, the company was fined NZ$4,000 for violating the Acts, with half of the penalty directed towards compensating Kaur for her ordeal.

In a unique move, the ERA granted Kaur permission to pursue the owed debts directly from Chamber, rather than his business. This decision highlights the accountability of individuals in positions of authority, emphasizing the need for personal responsibility when it comes to fair employment practices.

Manjari Singh

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