Kebab shop worker who worked 80-hr weeks gets $20k

1:35 pm on 30 November 2016

A kebab shop in Rotorua must pay $40,000 for forcing a Turkish migrant to work 80 hour weeks at below minimum wage.

In a newly-released decision, the Employment Relations Authority has found Yusuf Corten did not complain out of fear his two-year work visa would be cancelled.

Mr Corten worked 13 hour days, six days a week at Just Kebab, and took no holidays.

He was in sole charge of the shop, preparing food, serving customers and cleaning it after hours.

During eight months in 2013, he accumulated $28,262.50 in owed wages, and $5398.92 more in holiday pay.

He told the authority he was afraid if he complained the company would not support his visa.

"This caused Mr Corten financial stress, he had very little to live on each week and he spoke of how tired he was working long hours in a sole charge position with no holidays," the authority said.

It ruled Mr Corten was in a "vulnerable position" and ordered Just Kebab to pay him $20,000, and another $20,000 in penalties to the Labour Inspectorate, which brought the case.

It said the maximum it could have fined Just Kebab was $120,000.

"Failing to pay Mr Corten the minimum wage each week is in my view a serious breach and should attract a penalty at the higher end of the scale," the authority said.