Bakery owner told to pay $35,000 in wage arrears to ex-employee

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A bakery has been ordered to pay more than $35,000 to a former employee who is now facing deportation over his criminal activities.

Pavneet Singh worked as a baker at the EMA Bakery and Espresso in Parakai, north of Auckland, for more than five years until early 2017.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) said the bakery made illegal deductions from Mr Singh's wages.

He was asked to return part of his weekly wages to the owner in return for keeping his job, and was also owed holiday pay.

Mr Singh only complained to the Labour Inspector a few months after he left the bakery, when he was facing deportation over three charges of assault and one charge of threatening to kill.

He phoned the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in late June 2017 and claimed he was paid $700 a week for working 10 hours a day six days a week, according to an ERA document.

The document showed that Mr Singh also said he needed to pay $200 a week back to the employer for help with his immigration applications.

The owner of the bakery accepted that payment was due to Mr Singh though there were disputes on the amount.

The ERA said a worker was entitled to protection in their job even if they had committed unlawful actions.

"Workers are still entitled to their wages, holiday pay and the other protections of employment law even if they have, in other parts of their life, committed a crime or got an immigration visa on inaccurate grounds," the ERA document said.

"To hold otherwise would amount to a licence for exploitation and corrupt practices."

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