Hair salon allegedly underpaid young apprentice

A hair salon owner will face court after allegedly underpaying a teenage apprentice in her first job more than $14,000.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced litigation in the Federal Circuit Court against Jakoub Abboud and his company Hair-Rass Me Pty Ltd, which formerly operated a salon of the same name in Sydney.

Hair-Rass Me allegedly underpaid the employee $14,507 between July 2015 and July 2016, when she was aged between 15 and 17. The apprentice generally worked 50-hour weeks but was paid weekly amounts that were not sufficient to cover all of her entitlements under the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010. For example, it is alleged that in one week, the apprentice was paid $300 despite being entitled to $653.90. Most of the alleged underpayment relates to overtime entitlements.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also alleged the company also failed to correctly pay minimum apprentice rates for ordinary hours, penalty rates for weekends and public holidays and annual leave entitlements. In addition, Hair-Rass Me also allegedly failed to pay any superannuation for the apprentice and failed to reimburse her the cost of a training course, as required under the Award. Pay slip laws were also allegedly breached – and it is alleged that Abboud and his company also breached workplace laws during the Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation by failing to comply with a Notice to Produce employment records.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the involvement of a vulnerable young worker and the failure to rectify the matter were key factors in the decision to commence legal action.

“We treat alleged underpayment of young workers particularly seriously because we are aware they can be vulnerable, particularly in the early years of employment, as they are often unaware of their rights, heavily reliant on their employers and reluctant to complain,” Ms James said.

“We are especially concerned in matters where, as we allege in this case, parties fail to comply with our formal requests for documents we see as being material to getting to the bottom of what’s occurred.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman has previously dealt with Abboud and will allege that he was aware of the lawful obligation to pay minimum Award entitlements. The hair salon faces penalties of up to $63,000 per contravention and Abboud of up to $12,600 per contravention. The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking orders for Hair-Rass Me and Abboud to back-pay the alleged underpayments with interest, and pay the superannuation allegedly owed.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on 2 August.

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