The former owners of a Rotorua kebab shop have been fined after failing to pay a migrant worker thousands of dollars owed to him and making threats about his visa if he reported them.

Just Kebab Ltd has been ordered to pay a former employee $33,661.42 plus pay $40,000 in penalties for breaching the Minimum Wage Act, Holidays Act and Employment Relations Act.

It comes after the Employment Relations Authority found the company failed to pay the staff member minimum wage, holiday pay, or keep accurate employment records.

The company, whose directors and shareholders are Ziya Dayioglu and Osman Efendi, used to operate kebab store Just Kebab in Rotorua.

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The store had since been sold and was now operating under a different name with new owners, according to a staff member working the in the store today.

The Authority found Yusef Corten, an immigrant from Turkey with more than 20 years' experience as a chef, was employed at Just Kebab in 2013 and worked for about seven months.

The job description attached to his employment agreement specified Mr Corten would work 40 hours a week at $18 per hour.

But for the duration of his employment Mr Corten worked six days a week, from 8.30am until 10pm. He took no holidays while employed and was paid $720 a week, either in cash or cheque, which works out to about $8.90 an hour.

He resigned in September 2013 following disagreements with Mr Efendi.

Mr Corten had become concerned after he had an accident at work that Just Kebabs was not acting in accordance with the law.

When he raised matters with Mr Efendi, he was threatened and told his visa may be in jeopardy, the ruling stated.

During the labour inspector's investigation it was discovered Mr Corten was not paid minimum wage, nor was he paid time-and-a-half for public holidays worked, given alternate holidays for public holidays worked or paid holiday pay for the alternative holidays in lieu.

No representative from Just Kebab attended the investigation meeting. Company director Mr Dayioglu is understood to be living in Christchurch.

In a written statement, Labour Inspectorate general manager George Mason said the inspectorate did not tolerate employers who "fail to provide their employees with their minimum employment entitlements such as minimum wage or holiday pay".

"It is not acceptable for workers to come to New Zealand to seek a better life, and then be under-paid, over-worked, and deprived of their most basic rights as employees in this country."

Breakdown of penalties and arrears
To Yusuf Corten
- $28,262.50 gross, minimum wages
- $1404 gross, holiday pay at time-and-a-half for public holidays worked
- $936 gross, holiday pay for alternative days in lieu of public holidays worked
- $3058.92 gross, annual holiday pay due on termination of employment
- interest on the sum of $33,661.42 at the rate of 5 per cent from May 27, 2015 until date of payment
To the labour inspector
- $20,000 in penalties
- $1525.44 for costs and witness expenses
To the Employment Relations Authority
- $20,000 in penalties