Two managers of popular Auckland Indian restaurant chain Masala have admitted paying workers as little as $2 an hour.
Joti Jain, 42, pleaded guilty to 15 immigration and exploitation charges at Auckland District Court this morning.
She was the main target of a Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment sting and her name and full facts of her offending were suppressed until today.
Court documents show that between 2009 and 2014 Jain significantly underpaid four employees and strung them along with the promise of letters which would help them obtain a visa.
Gagandeep Singh worked as a waiter at the Bucklands Beach and Mission Bay premises for nearly a year while in New Zealand unlawfully.
He worked up to 11 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week, and was paid $250 after a week of unpaid "training".
Jain gave Mr Singh a letter offering him the position of assistant manager, working 30-40 hours at $15 an hour, when there was "no intention" that would be the case.
He eventually left in 2013 after having effectively been paid $2.64 an hour during his tenure.
Jointly charged with Jain was 36-year-old Rajwinder Singh Grewal, who managed the Bucklands Beach Masala.
He pleaded guilty to five charges this morning and, like his co-defendant, faces up to seven years imprisonment or a $100,000 fine.
In September 2014, Fijian national Bimal Roy Prasad answered a newspaper advert for a chef.
Grewal contacted him and took him to the Mission Bay restaurant to meet Jain.
But because it was so busy, he was asked to go and help in the kitchen.
Mr Prasad asked if he had a job but was told to return the following day to help the company cater for a large function.
After working for more than nine weeks, he was paid $40.
In more than one case, workers were told to submit timesheets indicating they were working about 30 hours a week, when in reality it was usually more than double that.
A waitress known only as Robin worked for $3 an hour at the Takapuna restaurant for three months before she was told she was being transferred to Mission Bay.
When she queried the decision with Jain, she was told to visit her Remuera house for a meeting.
But when she got there, Jain did not want to discuss the matter instead asking her to spend the next 11 hours cleaning the house.
When Robin finished working at Masala in May 2013 she was owed nearly $25,000 in wages and holiday pay.
It is understood the prosecution will seek more than $58,000 in reparation from Jain.
Her former partner Rupinder Singh Chahil, 43, faces six charges relating to allegedly false documentation but has pleaded not guilty.
Grewal and Jain will be sentenced next month.
• A waiter was paid $2.64 an hour while working more than 66 hours a week.
• A chef was paid a total of $40 for more than two months work.
• A waitress was told to clean the boss's house after questioning her transfer between restaurants.
• An assistant manager was working up to 90 hours a week at about $6 an hour when Immigration NZ was told he was working about a third of that for nearly four times the pay.