Auckland businesses face exploitation infringement notices

Published 14 November 2023 | 2 min read

85 Auckland businesses face scrutiny in migrant exploitation sting 

In a startling revelation, the Labour Inspectorate recently unleashed a crackdown on 85 Auckland businesses, uncovering a web of potential migrant exploitation and violations of minimum employment standards. This revelation comes in the wake of a three-day operation carried out in conjunction with Immigration Compliance and Investigations, responding to formal complaints against retail and hospitality businesses scattered across Auckland.

The hidden truth

The investigation was triggered by Newshub's exposé, shedding light on the appalling conditions faced by dozens of migrants crammed into unsanitary and overcrowded homes in Papakura. This grim reality set the stage for the large-scale operation, sending ripples through the business community and underscoring the pervasive nature of the issue.

Head of Compliance and Enforcement for the Labour Inspectorate, Simon Humphries, emphasized the seriousness of the situation. "We take migrant exploitation seriously," he declared, revealing that the operation aimed not only to educate but to hold accountable those who deliberately exploit migrants.

The operation unearthed disturbing levels of non-compliance at the 85 businesses visited. Breaches ranged from wages below the minimum wage rate to no employment contracts, employee holiday and leave entitlements being withheld, breaches of visa conditions, and even employers demanding money from employees. The extent of these violations paints a concerning picture of the employment landscape in Auckland.

How non-compliant NZ businesses are turning things around

While disappointing, the widespread non-compliance has prompted a proactive response from the Labour Inspectorate. Simon Humphries acknowledged that some businesses, initially found non-compliant with lower-level breaches such as poor recordkeeping, are now collaborating with the Inspectorate to enhance their employment practices. This positive engagement exemplifies a commitment to rectifying past mistakes and fostering better compliance within the business community.

What's next for Kiwi businesses and migrant workers?

The crackdown forms part of a broader national strategy, signaling a graduated and proportionate approach by the Labour Inspectorate to ensure sustained compliance. This approach includes proactive education and information-focused interventions, aiming to increase awareness and improve compliance within the retail and hospitality sectors.

The National Party has already removed the 90-day trial for migrant workers on the Accredited Employer Work Visas (AEWV). This policy alteration is designed to instil greater security and confidence in a migrant worker’s employment arrangement. 

View AEWV accredited employer obligations here.

In the face of these challenges, there is an opportunity for businesses to recalibrate their practices, embrace transparency, and actively contribute to a fair and just working environment. The sting operation, while revealing the shadows, also presents a chance for positive change and collective responsibility in the New Zealand business landscape.

Back to Articles