Last week, the Employment Court issued banning orders in respect of both Victoria 88 Limited, a company operating a bar and restaurant, and its director, Gordon Freeman, preventing either from employing any staff for three years. Both parties admitted to serious breaches of the Holidays Act, failing refusing to provide holiday pay to several of its employees. The orders prevent either party from entering into any employment agreement as an employer for three years.
The Employment Court’s heavy-handed move is unprecedented, as the empowering legislation was introduced as part of an employment law reform which came into force relatively recently, on 1 April 2016. In reaching the decision, Judge Corkill of the Employment Court recognised that banning orders should be issued rarely, only where there has been a serious breach of minimum employment standards.
The orders were part of a set of recommendations which were reached by the company and director in conjunction with the Labour Inspectorate in exchange for avoiding a lengthy and risky approach where the parties would face off in an adversarial Court hearing. This was likely a wise move, as the defendants could have opened themselves up to a risk of an even more severe penalty: the Employment Relations Act allows the Employment Court to issue a banning order for up to ten years.