Recovering underpayments; discovering illegal workers

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Recovering underpayments; discovering illegal workers

Fines imposed over $60,000 underpayment | Illegal workers detained in Vic compliance operations.

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Fines imposed over $60,000 underpayment | Illegal workers detained in Vic compliance operations.

Fines imposed over $60,000 underpayment
 
The former operators of a Melbourne wholesaler have been fined a total of $52,800 and ordered to back pay a worker more than $60,000.
 
A Melbourne couple have been fined $8448 and $2112 respectively, and their company has been fined a further $42,240.
 
The company has also been ordered to fully rectify its $63,939 underpayment of a worker.

The fines and back-payment orders, imposed by the Federal Magistrates Court in Melbourne, are the result of a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
 
Through their company, the then owners of the business operated a business importing and wholesaling home ware and giftware.
 
The couple admitted being responsible for their company underpaying the warehouse employee between November 2005 and June 2010.

Extremely low pay
 
In her judgment on the case, Federal Magistrate Norah Hartnett said the couple had displayed a disregard for workplace laws in paying the worker an ‘extremely low’ pay rate:
‘The purpose of the legislation is to provide a safety net which ensures adequate minimum entitlements to employees, particularly those whom are vulnerable or in low income roles.
 
The legislation is also designed to provide an even playing field for all employers with
regard to employment costs.’
The worker, aged in his 50s, was paid a flat hourly rate of just $12.50 but was entitled to receive up to $21 an hour for normal hours and up to $31 an hour for overtime work.
 
He was employed on a casual basis to perform duties including packing and organising stock, forklift driving and cleaning.

Illegal workers detained in Vic compliance operations
 
Immigration compliance officers detained a north-west Vic family overnight as part of operations that have netted 15 suspected illegal workers this week.
 
The location of the Fijian family of three in the Mildura area follows two other successful operations in the space of 72 hours.
 
A departmental spokesman said the operations followed the locating of 11 suspected illegal farm workers in the north-west Victoria region in late January.
 
This week’s operations were also helped in part by information from the public about foreigners believed to be involved in illegal work in the region. Investigations into the circumstances of their employment are continuing.
 
Criminal offence
 
‘Employers should be aware it is a criminal offence to knowingly or recklessly allow a person to work illegally or to refer an illegal worker for work,’ the spokesman said.

The Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service is available to employers to check the relevant identification details of prospective employees, with their consent, to quickly confirm their eligiblility to work in Australia.
 
Employers convicted under Commonwealth legislation of employing illegal workers face fines of up to $13,200 and two years’ imprisonment while companies face fines of up to $66,000 per illegal worker.
 
People with information about illegal workers or visa overstayers are encouraged to phone the Immigration Dob-In Line on 1800 009 623. 
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