An Australian IT company that exploited a New Zealand worker for seven months has been ordered to pay him more than $100,000.

In a blistering determination, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) said Forte Alpha Operations made "empty promises" and deliberately misled and deceived its employee Richard Newall, who was underpaid by more than $50,000.

The company is being struck off in Australia.

The ERA determination said it had breached Mr Newall's employment agreement 29 times by failing to pay a number of entitlements including a full salary, KiwiSaver contributions, PAYE to IRD, and holiday pay.


The company's actions "financially embarrassed" Mr Newall, the ruling said.

Mr Newall worked as an IT specialist for the company from April 7, 2013 until November 1, 2013.

He told the authority he was never paid on time and when payments were made, they were partial payments only that did not clear his salary arrears.

After months of emails asking to be paid in full, Mr Newall was eventually locked out of his employer's IT system - which he assumed meant he had been sacked, the determination said.

The company's director, Steven Prestage, sent an email to the authority which he said he also sent to Mr Newall at the start of his employment.

The email said: "Forte Alpha has decided not to countersign the employment agreement with you. We would prefer to have an ad hoc relationship with you. We will pay you what we can when we can. I hope that you understand our position."

Mr Newall denied ever seeing or receiving this email and said he would never have agreed to work on that basis, the determination said.

Authority member Rachel Lorimer said it "flies in the face of logic or wisdom that Mr Newall as the sole income earner in his family would continue working full time for an overseas company which would only pay whatever it elected whenever it decided to".


She said Mr Prestage offered a "range of excuses" to Mr Newall as to why his salary was not paid.

"It is clear from the information I have seen that Mr Prestage continually led Mr Newall to believe that his salary would be paid on time and his salary arrears would be paid.

"I find that Mr Prestage and [finance director Andrew] Retting on behalf of Forte Alpha deliberately misled and deceived Mr Newall regarding the non-payment of his remuneration."

She found Mr Newall had been unjustifiably dismissed from the company.

Mr Newall told NZME. News Service that since the ruling, released last year, he had not been paid any of the money and was now going through the Australian legal system to try to recover it.

Mr Prestage was not able to be reached for comment.

Forte Alpha was ordered to pay Mr Newall:
• $50,324.29 salary arrears;
• $5894.76 annual holiday pay;
• $2146 employer's KiwiSaver contribution;
• $2119.13 unpaid expenses;
• Interest of 5 per cent on the $60,484.18 from November 1, 2013 until the amount has been paid in full;
• $30,000 penalty;
• $4615.38 lost remuneration;
• $8000 distress compensation.