Plumbing company faces Court again over underpayments

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced a second legal action relating to underpayments to staff in the Federal Circuit Court against Michael Patrick Pulis of Victoria and his company, Pulis Plumbing Pty Ltd, which trades as Pulis Professional Plumbing.

This comes after the Court penalised Pulis and his company back in December last year a total of $121,500 for underpaying another young worker in a separate matter.

It is now alleged that Pulis and his business underpaid a young worker a total of $3929 between July and September last year, and falsified employment records.  The worker had performed around six weeks’ work for Pulis Plumbing at various locations in Melbourne.

The FWO alleged that the employee was paid third-year apprentice pay rates, despite Pulis and his company failing to formally sign up the employee to an apprenticeship. In the absence of a formal apprenticeship agreement, it is alleged that the employee was entitled to be paid the minimum pay rates and entitlements that apply to a plumber’s labourer position under the Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010.

It is also alleged the employee was underpaid his minimum hourly rates, overtime pay, allowances, leave entitlements and that superannuation was not contributed on his behalf. Pulis and his company also failed to provide the employee with written notice of termination or one week’s pay in lieu of that notice, failed to keep records associated with the termination and failed to pay outstanding entitlements within two days of the termination.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also alleged that Pulis and his company provided inspectors with a falsified employer apprenticeship document and falsified time-and-wages records that purported to show the employee had been provided higher rates than was actually the case.

“Under workplace laws, apprentice rates can be paid only when an employer has executed a written apprenticeship agreement with the relevant employee and lodged the agreement with the relevant authority in their state,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.

“Any employer who fails to comply with their workplace obligations may face legal action and significant financial penalties. When deciding which matters to take to court, the Fair Work Ombudsman considers allegations involving repeat non-compliance and young workers particularly seriously,” Ms Parker added.

Pulis faces penalties of up to $12,600 per breach and Pulis Plumbing Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $63,000 per breach. The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking various court orders, including requiring Pulis and/or his company to back-pay the employee’s allegedly outstanding superannuation entitlements, commission workplace relations training, and inform the FWO if they are engaging apprentices in future.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 4 December.

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