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.

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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.