Employees in Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga have made more than 170 complaints in the past three years under two pieces of legislation designed to protect workers from being ripped off by their bosses.
A trade union leader believes far more breaches go unreported.
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment data showed Western Bay of Plenty/Tauranga workers made 33 complaints under the Wages Protection Act and 137 under the Minimum Wage Act between July 2012 and February this year.
The figures were obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times under the Official Information Act.
The Wages Protection Act sets out the way wages must be paid, and prevents unlawful deductions from wages.
Wage deductions are only legal in a few circumstances, including if an employee has agreed to or requested the deduction in writing. This can be varied or withdrawn at any time - even if the original consent was included in an employment agreement.
The Minimum Wage Act outlines strict requirements for minimum pay. It can also be broken if deductions mean employees end up with less than the hourly minimum for hours worked.
In Western Bay of Plenty/Tauranga, most complaints were made by workers in the agriculture, forestry and fishery industry.
Tauranga employment lawyer Rita Nabney believed some employers made intentional breaches.
"I think perhaps there's some employers, particularly in the horticulture industry, that try to flout the law," she said.
"There is certainly a concern that people on temporary visas are taken advantage of by employers." Some employers and employees were probably ignorant of the laws, she said.
"There's probably some employees who would not be quite aware of their rights.
"They're the most vulnerable people - immigrants and young people.
"Some would be concerned that if they spoke up they may lose their job."
Mrs Nabney believed more could be done to advise workers of their rights and what to do when they were breached.
Nationwide, 1910 complaints were made to the ministry under the Minimum Wage Act between July 2012 and February this year.
A further 733 complaints were made under the Wages Protection Act during the same period.
The accommodation and food services industry was the biggest offender nationally, followed by the agriculture, forestry and fishery industry.
Council of Trade Union president Helen Kelly said the complaints would only hit the tip of the iceberg of the number of law breaches.
"That's only the people who can actually get through and complain and feel confident in doing that," she said.