A young migrant worker is set to be paid more than $30,000 after feeling like a “prisoner” working 50 to 60 hours per week and only being paid for 30.

The woman had worked as assistant manager at the Criterion Club in Alexandra between June 2019 and February 2020.

As part of her employment agreement, she was also living at the club, and felt “trapped” as if she resigned, her family would have nowhere to live.

“I have never seen a jail, but I felt I was a prisoner. I was sorry I had ever come to New Zealand. It was a very emotional time and I just wanted to leave.”

The business also reportedly “kept making excuses” about why they couldn’t pay her holiday pay when she resigned after nine months of working, prompting her to contact the Labour Inspectorate.

The inspectorate found 4S Hospitality Limited had kept falsified records that under-recorded the hours the complainant worked.

The labour inspector investigating the case used external records from the EFTPOS provider, the electronic gaming machines and data from the TAB terminal at the venue to identify the true hours the complainant worked.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) accepted that the business had failed to keep accurate records for the time the woman worked there and that this resulted in her not being paid for every hour she worked and for some of her holiday entitlements.

It awarded her $14,770 in arrears for money she had earned but was not paid.

ERA also ordered penalties of $24,000 against the company and $12,000 against Kuljinder Singh Sidhu, who helped run the business and hired the woman.

Half of the penalties are due to be paid to the woman. In total, together with wages, arrears and interest, the woman will be paid $34,270.

“It’s disheartening to see that this employee felt helpless and suffered the deliberate and systemic offending that her employer caused. As happened in this case, exploitative employers can expect to be heavily penalised for their wrongdoing,” the Labour Inspectorate’s head of compliance and enforcement Simon Humphries said.

“Fortunately, the complainant in this case did the right thing by reporting the abuse and our team was able to help.”