An Indian worker who went 73 weeks without being paid said he was too afraid to make a complaint against his employer for fear of losing his job and eligibility to live in New Zealand.
Hemal Patel won his employment case against his former employer, Papatoetoe car yard S & G Plus Auto Electrical in south Auckland. He began working with the company February 2014 shortly after arriving in the country and signed an employment agreement for 32 hours a week at a rate of $18.50 an hour.
But aside from a four-week period where he received wages Patel received nothing.
He resigned in June last year and took his case to the Employment Relations Authority, claiming more than $40,000 in wages. Patel had even paid the Inland Revenue Department more than $4000 himself after being told by an S&G manager that he was obliged to do so.
With no income Patel was forced to live off a credit facility and money loaned from his family in India.
After looking at Patel's bank accounts and with no counterevidence from the company, authority member Vicki Campbell accepted his claim. She said S&G director Shanta Kumar had failed to attend scheduled meetings regarding the investigation.
The authority awarded Patel $40,848 in lost wages, $3267 in holiday pay, the $4207 paid by Patel to Inland Revenue and $5000 compensation.