Siu Kit Chan, majority owner and manager of furniture wholesaler Iwood Australia, is facing legal action by The Fair Work Ombudsman for underpaying two Melbourne employees a total of $12,704.
Both employees were in their 20s, one being a Malaysian national on an Australian bridging visa, the Fair Work Ombudsman stated.
The Malaysian employee was underpaid $9,459 in 2010-2011, due to underpayment across her hourly rate, casual loading, overtime, leave entitlements and weekend/public holiday penalties.
The other worker, a Melbourne man, was underpaid $3,245 – accrued from unpaid annual leave entitlements and not being paid any wages for 94 hours of work.
The involvement of a young foreign worker was a key driver in the decision by Natalie James, the Fair Work Ombudsman, to launch legal actions.
Chan has been involved in the breaching of multiple workplace laws, and will face a maximum penalty of $6,6000 for each breach. James is also seeking orders for the employees to be back-paid in full.
The hearing will commence tomorrow.
Key HR Takeaways
As some of the breaches involved leave and holiday entitlements, the case acts as a reminder for employers to ensure they are fully aware of their employees’ entitlements over these periods. To ensure this, take the following steps:
• Understand your rights and obligations to different types of workers – casual employees aren’t entitled to be paid for a public holiday or day off, but part-time and full-time employees are. Normally, this is based on the rate of pay for the hours they would have ordinarily worked.
• Different industries and positions may be entitled to higher pay rates (penalty rates) than normal. The Fair Work Ombudsman provides an online tool for calculating this.
• Different public holidays apply in different areas. For instance, Borroloola Show Day in the Northern Territory, and part-day public holidays in South Australia. If you are managing employees in a state or territory you are unfamiliar with, make sure to familiarise yourself with the holidays in that area.
• Of great importance is ensuring any foreign workers are fully aware of their rights as an employee. Mistakes can occur, and if the employee is able to communicate their concern before further consequences, these matters can perhaps be remedied internally.
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