Cleaning business fined three times as much as it underpaid workers

, | By: Colin Fruk | Tags: wages, underpayment, Fair Work, penalties

A Sydney cleaning operator has been fined more than $11,000 for refusing to back-pay two international students who were underpaid about a quarter of that amount. 


Michael Girowal was fined $1,890 and his company Green Clean (Aust) Pty Ltd, a further $9,450 in the Federal Circuit Court. 
The Fair Work Ombudsman took legal action against Girowal and his company for failing to comply with a notice requiring them to repay two workers $2,943 in underpayments. The two employees were Filipino workers in Australia on student visas.

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Girowal paid the employees a flat rate of $20 an hour between December, 2014 and January, 2015, resulting in underpayment of the minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, and other entitlements.

Judge Rolf Driver said the underpayment amounts were "not insignificant" for the employees and the penalty imposed should "show there are serious consequences for failing to comply with a compliance notice".

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said extensive efforts were made to resolve the matter out of court but Girowal's refusal to co-operate meant legal action was necessary to force Girowal to back-pay the employees.

"This operator could have saved himself a lot of time and money by co-operating with the Fair Work inspectors who investigated this matter," Ms James said.

"The clear message to employers is that if you short-change employees and then thumb your nose at Fair Work inspectors, you do so at your own peril.

"We are prepared to take legal action against employers who refuse to engage with us and matters involving underpayment of visa holders are treated particularly seriously."

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