A labour-hire company has avoided court action for wage theft, after entering into an Enforceable Undertaking with Fair Work.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Sydney-based company agreed to back-pay a Chinese student.
The underpayments totalled $12,933 for a period between July 2017 and April last year.
Labour-hire company agrees to back pay worker
Cherries Farm Employment Agency Pty Ltd, based in Burwood, and its director Ms Hsin-Jung Hsieh, paid the student a cash-in-hand rate of $15 per hour.
As a result, the company failed to pay lawful rates of $23.51 an hour, and up to $35.27 on Saturdays and up to $47.02 for overtime.
Cherries Farm also created false and misleading records to disguise the illegal cash payments.
The worker, aged in her 20s, is in Australia on a student visa, and employed by Cherries Farm to pack and sort vegetables.
The Enforceable Undertaking
Under the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking, Cherries Farm will change its business practices to comply with workplace laws.
It will also engage auditors to check if other employees across all businesses it supplies labour to are receiving their correct entitlements.
These audits will take place in 2019 and also in 2020.
In addition to back-paying the worker, the company will also publish an apology on its social media channels.
Finally, Cherries Farm will make a contrition payment of $5,000 to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Enforceable Undertakings send wrong message
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at IR Claims, has long been critical of the Enforceable Undertakings.
“They send the wrong message to dodgy bosses,” he said.
“Employers know the regulator will offer an Enforceable Undertaking agreement, instead of taking legal action.
“As a result, they simply pay back what they owe, and make a token donation to a charity or to the Commonwealth Revenue Fund, and they get off Scot-free.
“Employers who are found to be deliberately ripping off their workers should be hauled before the courts to face the full force of the law.”
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