Taxi company directors personally liable

Four Dunedin taxi drivers owned nearly $100,000 in unpaid wages still do not know when they will see any of the money, despite their former bosses being found personally liable for leaving them out of pocket.

In August last year, former Southern Taxis drivers Brian Carnahan, George Kennedy, Gary Powell and Toni Powell were awarded their share of $97,753 in unpaid holiday pay and minimum wages by the Employment Relations Authority.

They were found to have received the minimum wage no more than 15% of the time and received no holidays or leave.

All four worked for Southern Taxis Ltd at times between October 2013 and December 2016, when Ron and Maureen Grant were the directors.

As the company assets had been sold, it no longer had the ability to pay the unpaid wages.

Yesterday the authority released a decision which found the couple personally liable for treating the drivers as contractors rather than employees.

Mr and Mrs Grant claimed they did not know they were breaching the law when they failed to provide the correct employment entitlements, something authority member Andrew Dallas discounted as ''wilful blindness''.

The Grants have challenged the authority's earlier decision and if they are successful it would need to be heard again.

They were unable to be contacted yesterday.

Until all matters before the authority were resolved, all costs were reserved.

Despite two rulings in their favour, Mr Powell was unsure if he or his wife would receive any of the more than $40,000 owed to them.

''We might never see any of the money but we've got to keep plugging away. We've got no other choice ... we've got to keep trying.''

Mr Carnahan said he would also continue to fight for the money owed to him.

''I won't let this lie because I have suffered by getting behind in my rent and other bills.''

Labour Inspectorate regional manager Jeanie Borsboom said the decision showed employers could not claim a lack of knowledge as a defence and company directors could not hide behind the corporate veil to reduce liability.

tim.miller@odt.co.nz

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