A former restaurant worker has been awarded $40,000 after his ex-employer failed to pay him minimum wage for his first year on the job and unfairly reduced his hours.

Former migrant worker Sachin Nayak started working at Auckland Indian restaurant Urban Turban in July 2014 as restaurant manager.

He worked there for just under two years.

Nayak signed a contract in July 2014, outlining that he was employed for a minimum of 45 hours per week, starting on a salary of $40,000. However after more than a year, and a promotion to general manager, his hours were reduced to part-time without notice and his salary halved.

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His employer claims he signed a second contract in July 2016. Nayak denies this.

Nayak took his complaint to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), which awarded him $40,013.16, including $10,333 of salary arrears, $7013 for holiday pay arrears and $2666 for unpaid public holiday entitlements.

He told the ERA he worked and opened the restaurant six days a week and was expected to close it on most days of the week which meant his working day regularly exceeded 12 hours, but claims he was never paid for more than 45 hours per week.

The ERA also heard that from July 2014 to July 2015 Nayak was paid just $12.82 per hour of work.

Urban Turban changed hands seven months ago under new owners and is called now Mumbai Express.

In March 2016 Urban Turban New Zealand director Bhushan Arolkar told Nayak he would be working part-time hours starting from the following day. His salary was immediately reduced by 50 per cent.

Nayak told the ERA his request for two week's notice prior to the reduction in his hours and salary was declined.

Urban Turban was found to have breached the Minimum Wages Act during Nayak's first year of employment and breached the employment agreement by "unilaterally" reducing his work hours.

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The restaurant has been ordered to pay a penalty of $30,000 for its breaches of Nayak's employment agreement, $10,000 of which is to be paid to the Crown.

The ERA ruled Urban Turban had "obtained an unfair advantage over its competitors by paying Nayak less than the minimum wage for the first year of his employment".

Urban Turban directors Bhushan and wife Jasmine Arolkar are believed to be living overseas and could not be tracked down for comment.