Manager penalised $118,000 for withholding employee's parental leave pay

The manager provided a Fair Work inspector with a false document claiming to show that he paid the funds to the employee's husband

Manager penalised $118,000 for withholding employee's parental leave pay

A former United Petroleum manager who tried to deprive his employee of her government-funded parental leave pay has been ordered to pay $118,440 in penalties by the Federal Court Circuit.

The manager, previously based at Marrangaroo in NSW’s Central West, claimed he provided the pay to the employee’s husband.

Moreover, when the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) investigated, Kulpreet Singh provided the inspector with a false document in May 2015.

The penalties are the result of the FWO’s first legal action against an employer for failing to transfer paid parental leave funds to an employee.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said withholding money funded by Australian taxpayers from a vulnerable worker and telling “blatant lies” to the FWO is “completely unacceptable” conduct that deserves the “strongest condemnation”.

“New parents have enough on their minds without having to chase recalcitrant employers over their taxpayer funded paid parental leave,” said James.

The employee worked as a chef on a 487 skilled regional employer nomination visa and is now an Australian citizen.

After the employee, then aged 29, had a child, the Department of Human Services (DHS) transferred $11,538 to Singh’s company in April 2015 to transfer to the worker.

The employee was entitled to the funds under the Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

After making several unsuccessful requests to Singh, the employee complained to the DHS that her employer had not paid her the funds.

The DHS was not able to resolve the matter and referred it to the FWO. After the FWO challenged the accuracy of the document and repeatedly demanded payment, Singh and his company eventually paid the parental leave funds to the employee more than five months after they were due.

In Court, Singh admitted committing a contravention of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, as well as a number of contraventions of record-keeping and pay slip laws under the Fair Work Act.

Judge Nick Nicholls said that Singh had engaged in a “deliberate deception”.

He added that Singh had lied and that the failure to transfer the parental leave pay was “an express and active intervention” to deprive the employee of her payments.

Judge Nicholls also found that Singh had not displayed “any true remorse” and that some of the excuses he made for not paying the paid Parental Leave pay to the employee sooner were “absurd”.

 

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