Sydney print finishing business Mega Tabs has been fined for its tardiness in recompensing migrant workers which it underpaid for two years.
Owner Lloyd Lam was fined $3,000 and his company copped $18,000 following Fair Work Ombudsman court action, after the company failed to comply with a Compliance Notice that required it to back-pay the workers by August last year.
Lam was ordered to pay workers – all of whom were Korean migrants on 147 visas – $230,000 by which the earlier court found they had been underpaid.
Individual workers were owed between $4,100 and $36,666. The company finalised the back-payments last week, one day before the penalty hearing and more than 14 months after the deadline.
For two years from November 2013, the workers at Mega Tabs were paid a flat hourly rate of $13, which led to underpayments of base rates of pay, casual loading, afternoon and night shift allowances, public holiday penalty rates, and overtime rates owed under the Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing Award 2010.
Workers were allegedly entitled to combined base rates and casual loading of between $20.63 and $21.69 per hour, and penalty rates of up to $54 per hour.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that the regulator litigated after the company failed to back-pay workers according to their lawful entitlements.
“This matter should serve as a warning to all employers about the consequences of disregarding Compliance Notices. Fair Work Inspectors use this enforcement tool to promptly address underpayments, and we won’t hesitate to take employers to court to enforce them and seek penalties.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman is prioritising the protection of migrant workers, who have the same workplace rights as all Australians but can be particularly vulnerable due to language and cultural barriers, or visa status. Any workers with concerns about their pay should contact us,” Parker said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs where visa holders can ask for help without fear of their visas being cancelled.
** Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace.