A Melbourne packing services business and one of its directors have been penalised more than $220,000 for underpaying three staff.
The company, trading as Rapid Pak, has been ordered to pay $184,800 after admitting to underpaying the workers $23,479 through a combination of insufficient hourly rates and payments based on the number of items packed, known as piece rates.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Grant Riethmuller criticised the “appalling greed” of Ingrid Hsi, of Glen Iris, one of the directors and part-owners of the company, ACC Services (Aust) Pty Ltd, who was given a penalty of $36,960.
One employee, was short-changed $14,792 between 2011 and 2014.
The other two workers, who were 417 working visa holders, were underpaid $3776 and $4991 across a period of just three months in 2014.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the substantial penalties were another reminder that the courts had no tolerance for the exploitation of any workers.
“This decision is another warning that employers face a major financial hit if they fail to pay the correct wages that all employees in Australia are entitled to” Mr Campbell said.
The company has also been ordered to provide training to managerial staff on compliance with workplace laws.
The Fair Work Ombudsman was also successful in seeking a court injunction to prevent the company and Ms Hsi, a Chinese migrant, from breaching the modern award and the National Employment Standards in future. The injunction means each could potentially face criminal charges of contempt for any future proven contraventions.
In the 2015-16 financial year, 38 of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s 50 litigations (76 per cent) involved a visa holder. Sixteen of those litigations involved a 417 visa.
In 2015-16, the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered just over $3 million for all visa-holders, with $1.37 million of this for 417 visa-holders.