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Man wins $100,000 from Australian employer

An Australian company has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 to a New Zealand man after it failed to pay him his salary, holiday pay and superannuation scheme (KiwiSaver).


Richard Newall was employed by Australian company Forte Alpha, which calls itself “one of the world’s leading advisory firms” on its website and counts Rio Tinto, Singapore Airlines, ANZ and the Bank of China among its clients.

Mr Newall provided IT support and services to Forte Alpha clients from April to November last year.

He said his salary was never paid on time and was not paid in full. His expenses weren’t fully reimbursed, taxes weren’t paid to IRD on his behalf and no KiwiSaver contributions were made.

He wasn’t given a signed copy of his employment agreement, wasn’t allowed to access wage and time records and was unjustifiably dismissed, the NZ Employment Relations Authority has found.

Forte Alpha argued it had never signed an employment agreement with Mr Newall and instead had an ad hoc relationship with him.

“We will pay you what we can when we can. I hope that you understand our position,” Forte Alpha director Steven Prestage wrote in an email to Mr Newall.

Mr Newall says he never received that email and would never have worked on that basis.

The ERA decision released on Wednesday found Mr Newall was employed by Forte Alpha and the company breached its agreement.

“It flies in the face of logic or wisdom that Mr Newall, as the sole income earner in his family, would continue working full time for an overseas company which would only pay whatever it elected whenever it decided to,” Rachel Larmer, a member of the ERA, said in her decision.

Forte Alpha was ordered to pay $50,000 of salary arrears, $6000 in annual holiday pay, $8000 in distress compensation, a $30,000 penalty and other costs within 28 days.