A notorious plumber has been penalised $151,200 for underpaying a worker by falsely classifying him as an apprentice.
It’s the second time he has faced court over “startlingly similar” conduct – bringing his total penalties to $270,000.
Notorious plumber paid apprentice rates
Michael Pulis, and his company Pulis Professional Plumbing, underpaid a 22 year-old for six weeks work.
Pulis paid the worker as a third year apprentice, despite never signing him up to a legitimate apprenticeship.
Therefore, the worker was entitled to full-time rates.
Despite this, Pulis underpaid him his:
- minimum ordinary hours;
- overtime pay;
- various allowances;
- leave entitlements;
- and also termination payments.
As a result, the apprentice ended up $4,035 out-of-pocket between July and September 2017.
Additionally, the company also failed to pay $570 in superannuation.
Pulis and his company also provided Fair Work inspectors with falsified documents including:
- apprenticeship documents; and also
- time-and-wages records falsely showing higher rates paid to the employee.
“GREEDY PLUMBER IN COURT AGAIN OVER WAGE THEFT”
Conduct ‘deliberate and exploitative’
In the Federal Circuit Court, Judge Alister McNab described the wage theft as “deliberate and exploitative” –
“The Respondents have engaged in deliberate conduct in failing to sign [the worker] up to a training contract and by underpaying him.
“Mr Pulis was actively engaged in litigation on the same subject matter at the time when this contravention occurred and must have been aware of the company’s obligations and deliberately chose not to observe them.
“It is conduct that undermines the apprenticeship scheme and it affects the employee beyond the fact of underpaying entitlements.”
Consequently, Judge McNab penalised Pulis $27,200 and Pulis Professional Plumbing a further $124,000.
Furthermore, Pulis must also notify the Fair Work Ombudsman if he employs any worker on an apprenticeship during the next two years.
Criminal penalties needed
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from IR Claims called for criminal sanctions for wage theft.
“This case is the perfect example where criminal penalties are appropriate,” he said.
“Here we have a repeat offender, deliberately ripping off a worker for a second time, in addition to providing the regulator with falsified employment records.
“It’s time we started locking up people like Mr Pulis in order to send the message that this sort of appalling conduct is not acceptable.”
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