The Fair Work Ombudsman has let an international company off the hook, despite it underpaying its staff $1.2 million.
The major foreign exchange business escaped legal action by signing an Enforceable Undertaking with Fair Work.
Under the terms of the agreement, the company will back-pay the workers in full, in addition to improving payroll systems and practices.
Fair Work lets company off the hook
Fair Work first investigated UAE Exchange Australia in 2015 following a complaint about wage theft from a worker at a Queensland branch.
Another two employees based in Adelaide then complained about underpayments.
Inspectors found the company failed to pay the three workers their lawful:
- minimum pay rates;
- casual loadings; and also
- penalty rates for evening, weekend, overtime and public holidays.
The company back-paid the workers a total of $100,018 as a result of the investigation.
Fair Work then conducted a full audit of the company.
Inspectors discovered UAE Exchange had underpaid 243 workers a staggering $1,065,391.
The company owed workers individual amounts of up to $35,000.
Illegal cash-back scheme
In addition to stealing wages, UAE Exchange also forced staff to make-up shortfalls in till balances out of their own wages.
The Fair Work Act states that this is an illegal deduction from pay.
In total, the company made workers pay $170,018 out of their own wages to make up till balances.
UAE has since back-paid this money.
Fair Work offers agreement
Instead of commencing litigation, Fair Work offered UAE Exchange an Enforceable Undertaking, if it promised to back-pay its workers.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker defended the agreement, arguing it will result in workers getting their money sooner than if the case had gone to court.
“Under the Enforceable Undertaking, UAE Exchange is required to make major improvements to its workplace practices, with current and future workers to benefit.
“This action serves as a warning to global businesses that if you don’t get your workplace compliance in order, you can be left with a massive back-payment bill.”
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says Enforceable Undertakings send the wrong message.
“Employers who steal their workers’ wages have little chance of getting caught,” he said.
“And when they do, the regulator offers them a ‘get of jail free’ card.
“This company not only underpaid its workers by more than a million bucks, it also made more than $100 grand in illegal wage deductions.
“They should have faced the full force of the law, including substantial court-ordered penalties for such deliberate unlawful conduct.”
UAE Exchange Australia has until September to pay back its workers.
Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on