Worker who paid boss for visa wins compensation

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An employer that made a café worker pay $23,000 in exchange for a job offer and help in getting a work visa has been ordered by the Employment Relations Authority to pay more than $56,000 in compensation, owed wages and sick pay.

The sum also includes a repayment of the $23,000.

The authority found that Lin Zhang was “unjustifiably constructively dismissed” by her employer, Tan Pacific, which operated BB’s Café in the city where Zhang worked.

“Ms Zhang was treated disgracefully by Tan Pacific throughout the employment and on her evidence was simply taken advantage of,” authority member James Crichton said in his decision.

Zhang, an international student who had been in the country on a study visa, applied for a job at BB’s Café when her visa was about to expire.

Zhang claimed she told her boss William Tan about her visa status and he said he could help her by providing a job offer and getting her a work visa, but she would have to pay him.

“Ms Zhang gave evidence that Mr Tan told her to pay him $10,000 upfront and then the remaining $13,000 once she got her work visa approved,” said Crichton.

“She says she offered to make those payments to Mr Tan by bank transfer, but that he refused, saying that he would only accept cash payments.”

Zhang provided the receipts for the payments to the authority.

During her employment at the café in 2012, Zhang said that her days and hours of work varied dramatically – in one case, she had to work every day of the month without a break, while during another month, her hours were reduced to one day a week.

She was also forced to work while sick, even though she had a medical certificate.

Tan Pacific failed to show up to any of the hearings or make a statement about its treatment of Zhang.

The company was ordered to pay Zhang the $23,000 for the visa, $8,500 in compensation for hurt and humiliation, $21,880.39 in owed wages, $2,793 in holiday pay and $487.50 in sick pay.

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