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A South Island based tour company has been ordered to pay more than $110,000 in penalties and arrears following a Labour Inspectorate investigation.

Alps Travel, a South Island based tour company primarily aimed at tourists from China, has been ordered to pay $75,000 in penalties and more than $35,000 in arrears after a Labour Inspectorate investigation found serious breaches of employment law.

“Employees were working very long hours while being paid a daily rate, regardless of how many hours they worked. This meant they were not being paid minimum wage, and they were also left without holiday pay,” says Labour Inspectorate regional manager Jeanie Borsboom

“This employer also failed to keep accurate time, wage, holiday or leave records, and made unlawful deductions from their employees to discipline them for things like bus damage or negative customer feedback – all completely unacceptable under New Zealand employment law.”

Alps Travel initially sought to avoid providing minimum standards by saying their workers were contractors, but went on to acknowledge during the Inspectorate’s investigation this was not the case, and minimum standards should be applied.

“Employers in this industry should note that log books will not fully meet their record keeping obligations, that they cannot contract out of providing employees with their entitlements, and that daily rates will not necessarily meet the minimum wage,” says Ms Borsboom

“Where the Inspectorate finds employers seeking to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors by breaching minimum standards, we will hold them to account, and we will be transparent in our dealings with these employers so consumers can make informed choices.”

Alps Travel has had its Transport Service Licence for both passenger and rental services revoked by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), with NZTA and the Inspectorate assisting each other in their respective investigations.

The general manager of Alps Travel’s Queenstown branch was recently found guilty of fraud at the Christchurch District Court, in relation to aiding and abetting an Alps driver to dishonestly use another driver’s licence in an attempt to show that he was correctly licensed.

Anyone concerned about their employment situation, or the situation of someone they know, should call 0800 20 90 20 where they can report their concerns in a safe environment.

Read the full Employment Relations Authority determination(external link)

-Employment NZ