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The operator of a Sydney labour-hire company is facing Court for allegedly underpaying 19 overseas workers more than $45,000.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced proceedings against Sydney woman Yan Hu and the company she operates, Global Express Consultancy Pty Ltd, in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney.

The employees were allegedly underpaid between February, 2014 and May, 2015, when working at three factories in Sydney.

The employees, from Taiwan and Hong Kong, were in Australia on 417 working holiday visas.

Ms Hu’s company supplied the employees to work at:

> A Taren Point factory operated by Banquet Desserts Pty Ltd, which supplies cheesecakes and muffins to Coles and Woolworths,

> A factory at Mascot operated by Vienna Schubert Estia Pty Ltd, which supplies patisserie products to organisations including hospitality businesses, airlines and schools, and

> A Kirrawee factory operated by South Pack Laboratories Pty Ltd, which operates a business packing vitamins and other non-prescription complementary medicines.

The employees were allegedly underpaid their minimum hourly rates, casual loadings, Saturday penalty rates and overtime rates.

It is alleged that some of the employees also had “bonds” of up to $300 unlawfully deducted from their wages. Pay-slip laws were allegedly also contravened.

Fair Work inspectors investigated after employees contacted the Agency for assistance.

The Fair Work Ombudsman says a decision was made to commence litigation because the alleged underpayment was not rectified and vulnerable overseas workers were involved.

Ms Hu faces penalties of up to $10,800 per contravention and Global Express Consultancy faces penalties of up to $54,000 per contravention.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking Court Orders for the company to back-pay the employees and to commission an audit of its compliance with workplace laws.

A directions hearing is listed for February 5 in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney.

Need help with HR and compliance?

Most businesses – including small businesses – are now covered by the national Fair Work system created by the Fair Work Act 2009.

Fair work Inspectors appointed by the Fair Work Ombudsman have the power to enter a workplace at any time during working hours to inspect records and ensure compliance: Read more about fines and penalties: Fair Work Act 2009

HR Managers, Directors and people responsible for payroll and administration functions also risk personal fines under Section 550 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

Need help with HR and compliance? Better HR HR Solutions