Two employers may be blacklisted from hiring immigrants if the Department of Labour upholds allegations they paid workers below the minimum wage.
The allegations arose from last night's ONE News investigation about migrant workers being overworked and underpaid, which prompted other workers to come forward with complaints.
One employee from an Auckland Indian Restaurant, who wishes to remain anonymous, revealed they were only getting paid $6.50 an hour.
The minimum wage for an adult in New Zealand is $13.50.
The Department of Labour said it investigated more than 2000 similar complaints last year. It could not say how many of those were upheld.
"In some cases there's not enough information to base the allegations on, so in some cases there would be no resolution," said the department's Lesley Haines.
If an employer is found to have underpaid an employee they can be made to pay arrears.
An employer who has repeated offending can be fined up to $20,000, or blacklisted from employing more migrants.
Slow to act
Employment lawyer Max Whitehead said the department has been too slow to act.
Whitehead advised his clients to file a complaint about their liquor store boss more than five months ago, but the department is still investigating and no charges have been laid.
"Right now these workers are hearing that this employer's bragging that he's untouchable and he can do what he likes. What signal is that putting out to our employers?" Whitehead said.
The Department of Labour has also confirmed that some employers
are making migrants actually buy back their jobs. An immigration
advisor said in some cases the migrant might pay a "so-called
employer" anything up to $50,000.