A migrant worker was forced to pay her boss $14,400 in "premiums" to secure her job as a chef at an Indian restaurant.

Kapilaben Patel has been awarded $31,413.19 for unpaid wages and $11,400 in reimbursement for the premiums paid in the latest of a string of migrant worker exploitation cases heard by the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Patel was employed by Christchurch restaurant Curry Pot on Lincoln Limited from August 2011 until the employment ended in July 2014.

The ERA found Patel and her husband made payments of about $15,000 for a job offer with Curry Pot, assistance and support with a work visa and permanent residency application.


Evidence before the ERA showed $5000 was paid to Curry Pot four months before Patel began working for the restaurant. The payment was made 11 days before an employment agreement was signed and provided to immigration New Zealand.

Other payments were made in cash to directors of the company, Patel said.

The payments were not made as an investment in the company or as payment for rent, the ERA said. Part of the money had been reimbursed at an earlier date.

Patel's hourly pay rate and work hours fluctuated during the three years she worked at Curry Pot.

The ERA was provided with evidence of time sheet records and found Patel was owed $31,413.19 in unpaid wages, holiday pay and for working on statutory holidays.

Read the full decision here: