The employer of an IT support worker who was exploited over an almost seven-month period has been ordered to pay him $30,000.
The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found Steven Prestage, the chief executive officer and sole director of Australian-based Forte Alpha Operations, breached the Employment Relations Act 20 times by inciting, instigating, aiding and abetting the company's breaches of Richard Newall's employment agreement.
The authority's determination said Mr Newall was employed as a client specialist providing a range of IT support services to Forte Alpha's clients by Mr Prestage in April 2013.
The ERA found although Mr Newall accepted the offer and entered a written employment agreement, it was with an entity that did not legally exist.
Throughout his employment, Mr Newall was never paid on time. When he did get paid it was never his full salary and he has still not been paid his salary arrears, the authority said.
A previous ERA determination, issued in March, found the company breached Mr Newall's employment agreement multiple times by failing to pay him his monthly salary when it was due, and failing to pay him his full salary, salary arrears, KiwiSaver contributions, PAYE and his annual holiday pay upon termination.
Mr Prestage blamed the breaches on Forte Alpha's former finance manager, who he claimed to have dismissed in August.
ERA member Rachel Larmer said in her determination that she did not find Mr Prestage to be a credible witness, describing his evidence as "demonstratively incorrect because it contradicted emails he had sent and received".
Mr Newall raised his wage arrears numerous times in emails and phone calls, the determination stated.
He even offered to fly to Sydney to collect his wage arrears in person "given that getting his salary put into his bank account seemed to be such a problem", the determination stated.
Mr Prestage responded to the offer saying they were investigating the situation with their bank and would call as soon as he heard back from the bank, but never did.
Mr Newall said he was embarrassed to have to to borrow money from relatives to pay bills because he had not received one correct pay in the entire time he worked for the company and that the "stress and anxiety is becoming intolerable".
Ms Larmer said Mr Prestage appeared to have exploited Mr Newall by receiving the benefit of his time and labour over an almost seven month period without fully paying him for it.
Mr Prestage always had an excuse about why full payment had not occurred and would reassure Mr Newall that his outstanding salary payment was imminent, Ms Larmer said.
"These empty promises went on and on with Mr Newall never actually being paid what he was owed.
"Mr Prestage's empty reassurances to Mr Newall appear to be a cynical exploitation designed to keep Mr Newall working."
She subsequently found Mr Prestage had breached the Employment Relations Act 20 times and ordered him to pay Mr Newall $30,000 within 28 days.
Comment was being sought from both parties.