The Equal Employment Opportunities Trust is urging migrant workers to seek advice if they feel exploited in a workplace by employers who may be breaching employment laws.
This follows a recent Employment Relations Authority case where an Auckland company had to pay over 70 thousand dollars to a Chinese woman after making her pay her own wages to support her application for permanent residency. The Chinese woman paid a director of the company 33 thousand dollars to be employed as an advertising sales representative so she could meet a requirement for residency.
The EEO Trust’s General Manager, Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie, says it is aware of other allegations about migrant workers being taken advantage of in a similar manner for a company’s commercial gain. “This is not acceptable and all businesses need to respect all employees regardless of their immigration status.” Ms Cassidy-Mackenzie says this type of exploitation could be a lot more widespread than thought as many migrants are scared they may lose their visa, and don’t know their rights.
“I congratulate the Chinese woman for taking her former employer to the authority as it shows to other immigrants that manipulating vulnerable workers is not only immoral but illegal.
Immigration New Zealand is now looking into the company and I look forward to hearing whether legal action will be taken against the director.”
She says the EEO Trust is also aware of allegations that some small businesses are offering newcomers to the country jobs at below the minimum wage. “This country has an increasingly diverse workforce and all employees should be treated equally but sadly that’s not happening.”
Ms Cassidy-Mackenzie says the EEO Trust has resources and advice for employers and workers about employing people from overseas.