Salon commits to reform after underpayment allegations

A Sydney hair and beauty salon operator has back-paid seven workers more than $25,000 and will overhaul its workplace practices, under the terms of an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The back-payments have been made by Ohmed Pty Ltd, which operates the OKS Hair and Beauty Salon, where seven workers were underpaid a total of $25,045 between March 2016 to May 2017.

At least two of the workers were Korean nationals. One of them, who was in Australia on a working holiday visa at the time, obtained work at the salon with the assistance of the university she had studied at in Korea to become a beautician, though the work at the salon was not a part of her studies.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated and found that the seven workers concerned had been underpaid the minimum rates for ordinary hours and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work they were entitled to under the Hair and Beauty Award at the time. Some were paid cash-in-hand. The workers were all employed as casual salon assistants, with tasks including greeting customers, cleaning and providing assistance to the salon’s hairdressers and beauticians.

Ohmed Pty Ltd also failed to issue pay slips to the workers and failed to pay superannuation. The Fair Work Ombudsman will refer the matter to the Australian Taxation Office.

The company and its director, Hyung Jin Oh, fully co-operated with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation, back-paying the workers in full and agreeing to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) focused on ensuring future compliance.

The EU imposes significant obligations on Oh and Ohmed Pty Ltd, including a requirement for the company to engage, at its own expense, an external auditor to conduct three audits of all employees’ pay and conditions over the next two years.

The EU also requires the company to ensure all staff with responsibility for human resources, recruitment or payroll functions undertake workplace relations training. Oh and his mother Kyung Sook Oh – who assisted with the operation of the salon – are also required to complete additional training via the FWO Online Learning Centre. The company must also send letters of apology to the affected workers, display a notice regarding the EU in the workplace and on its Facebook page.

Ohmed agreed to make the $5000 donation to the Marrickville Legal Centre in recognition of its contrition for the underpayments. The company will ensure its employees have the opportunity to attend a legal information session run by the Marrickville Legal Centre, with a Korean interpreter present.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said an EU was an appropriate outcome, given the full cooperation of the employer and the rectification of back-payments.

“EUs allow the Fair Work Ombudsman to achieve strong outcomes against companies that breach workplace laws without the need for civil court proceedings, which are often lengthy and can significantly extend the time it takes for workers to receive their entitlements,” Ms Hannah said.

Ms Hannah added, “This EU puts in place robust measures to ensure that Mr Oh and Ohmed Pty Ltd take real steps to improve their workplace practices and ensure sustained compliance with workplace laws going forward. This will make a real difference to workers.”

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