The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has secured $124,186 in penalties against a cleaning services company based in Sydney and its former manager for underpaying two visa holders, international students from Nepal, and providing false records.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court imposed penalties of $105,840 against Green Clean (Aust) Pty Ltd and $18,346 against the former manager. The company and the manager admitted to breaching workplace laws by underpaying two casual cleaners, failing to issue pay slips, and producing false or misleading documents to a Fair Work Inspector.
The workers, who were international students from Nepal, were underpaid between March and June 2019 after Green Clean misclassified them as independent contractors.
This is the second time the FWO has secured penalties against Green Clean. In 2016, the FWO obtained a penalty of $9,450 against the company for failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to back-pay two Filipino international students it had employed.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that employers who repeatedly breach workplace laws will face significant consequences. “Deliberately providing false or misleading documents to inspectors is also a serious breach of the Fair Work Act and will not be tolerated,” Parker said.
During the investigation, Fair Work Inspectors found that the workers had been underpaid minimum wages, casual loading, broken-shift allowance, penalty rates, overtime entitlements, and superannuation owed under the Cleaning Services Award 2010. Green Clean also failed to pay the workers amounts due to them within seven days of termination.
In imposing the penalties, Judge Brana Obradovic found that the breaches were serious in light of the vulnerability of international students who were “unlikely to be aware of minimum Australian labour standards.”
Judge Obradovic said that there was a need to deter Green Clean and others from breaches that “undermine the workplace relations system, and its enforcement, as a whole.”
The FWO has filed 126 litigations involving visa holder workers, and secured more than $13.4 million in court-ordered penalties in visa holder litigations, in the last five full financial years.