The Fair Work Ombudsman has taken legal action against the former operators of a petrol station on the NSW Central Coast who allegedly underpaid two migrant workers over $50,000.
Kamaldeep Singh and his wife Uma Singh face the Federal Circuit Court in relation to alleged conduct at a Metro Petroleum petrol station they formerly operated in Doyalson. Mr. Singh’s company, Sinpek Pty Ltd, also faces court.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleged that Sinpek failed to pay minimum rates to two workers for ordinary hours; penalty rates for overtime, weekend and public holidays; shiftwork loadings; and various leave entitlements under the Vehicle, Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010. The workers were Indian nationals from non-English speaking backgrounds, who were employed by Sinpek as console operators. Mr. Singh was also born in India.
It is alleged that from May 2015 to August 2016, Sinpek underpaid the male employee $28,157 and the female employee $24,607. Further, it is alleged that Sinpek twice breached the Fair Work Act’s prohibition on unreasonable requirements to pay an employer money relating to performance of work.
The male employee was allegedly required by Sinpek to cover the loss from a customer who drove off without paying for fuel. The same employee was also allegedly required to pay part of Sinpek’s income tax payments relating to his work for Sinpek. The two workers were on bridging visas and applying for Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas through Sinpek, prior to having their jobs terminated in August 2016.
The Fair Work Ombudsman also alleged that Sinpek failed to provide the workers payment in lieu of notice for termination, failed to fully comply with a Notice to Produce employment records, and breached record-keeping and pay slips laws. The inspectors investigated Sinpek after receiving requests for assistance from migrant employees.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman prioritises matters involving the alleged underpayment of visa workers as they can be particularly vulnerable in the workplace and reluctant to complain. These vulnerabilities can unfortunately be exacerbated when the employer is from the same cultural background as the affected workers,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker. “All employers must pay migrant workers the minimum wage rates that apply to all workers across Australia. Any workers who are concerned about their wages or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.”
Sinpek faces penalties of up to $54,000 per breach and up to $27,000 for record-keeping and pay slip breaches, while Mr. and Mrs. Singh face penalties of up to $10,800 per breach and up to $5,400 for record-keeping and pay slip breaches.