The former operators of two Brisbane massage parlours have been penalised $120,000 for wage theft.
The pair refused an order from the Fair Work Ombudsman to back-pay $12,842 in outstanding wages.
As a result, the Federal Circuit Court penalised Sean Pinnell and Sajanda Paudel $4,625 and $10,600 respectively.
The court also penalised their company, Bishnu Laxmi Ganesha Trading Pty Ltd, an additional $97,000
Brisbane massage parlours penalised
Pinnell and Paudel operated the ‘Brisbane City Thai Massage and Day Spa’ and the ‘Heavenly Asian Massage’ parlour.
The two affected massage therapists are Japanese working in Australia on 417 holiday visas.
Pinnell and Paudel paid the workers per-massage instead of paying the minimum hourly rates and entitlements outlined in the Hair and Beauty Industry Award.
The wage theft happened over a three month period in 2016.
Judge Salvatore Vasta described the workers as “vulnerable” because they came from overseas, and are entitled to be protected under Australian law.
“That amount of money, for which they were underpaid, would be extremely sizeable to those particular employees.”
Employers made costly mistake
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Industrial Relations Claims, says, in this case, the employers made a costly mistake
“As soon as they received a Compliance Notice by Fair Work, they should have paid up,” he said.
“Instead of paying just $13,000, these two now have to write a cheque for $120,000 – how dumb can you get?
“Employers take note – if you are ordered to back-pay your employees, do it immediately, because it will save you a lot of money in the long run.”
In addition to the penalties, Judge Vasta also ordered Pinnell and Paudel to back-pay the workers in full, and to also complete Fair Work online training.
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