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Melbourne store fined $108k for underpaying visa worker

Regulation

FWO pursued grocery over $12-an-hour rate and failure to provide payslips.

By Philip King3 minute read

A Melbourne CBD grocery store has been fined $108,360 for underpaying a migrant worker and failing to provide payslips.

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Jenny Global Pty Ltd, which formerly ran Dae Bark Mart Asian grocery on Flinders Street, was also ordered to make back payments of $8,860 to the South Korean national, who was in Australia on a working holiday visa and spoke limited English.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court found the worker was paid hourly rates of only $12 to $16 (plus small cash payments totalling $60) and not issued with payslips while employed as a store assistant from January to May 2020.

Judge Catherine Symons said the penalties reflected serious breaches of the General Retail Industry Award 2010.

“The conduct of the respondent is especially egregious in circumstances where the employee concerned had characteristics that made him vulnerable to an unscrupulous operator and where the respondent has taken no corrective action,” Judge Symons said.

“The employee remains out of funds which represented to him almost 50 per cent of his entitlement over the employment period and the respondent, although not apparently operating the business, remains registered.”

The case was pursued by the Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker, who said it showed employers who underpaid visa holders could face substantial penalties.

“Employers should be in no doubt that we prioritise the protection of vulnerable workers, including migrant workers who we know can be at particular risk of exploitation,” Ms Parker said.

“All workers have the same rights regardless of nationality or visa status, including to receive a payslip within one day of being paid.”

The FWO has previously taken legal action against Dae Bark Mart Asian grocery for worker underpayments that resulted in $121,000 in penalties for a separate company, Jenni International Pty Ltd (now in liquidation), and a former director-owner of that company, Jordan Shan.

They had been paying migrant workers as little as $10 per hour in 2016.

Mr Shan was also a former director of Jenny Global and prior to the liquidation of Jenni International this year, the companies shared another common director.

The court-ordered back pay included interest, make good on the hourly rate, casual loading, overtime pay, and evening and public holiday penalty rates.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs, called the Assurance Protocol, where visa holders can ask for their help without fear of their visa being cancelled for breaches of their work-related visa conditions.

Melbourne store fined $108k for underpaying visa worker
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Philip King

Philip King

AUTHOR

Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

You can email Philip on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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