Fine imposed for underpayment of foreign workers in Adelaide and Brisbane

13 February 2013

Note: Reference to prosecution in this media release is a general reference to the FWO commencing proceedings for the imposition of civil penalties and should not be taken to be a reference to criminal proceedings.

The Australian arm of a global retail company has been fined $59,400 for underpaying 13 employees - including many foreign workers - in Adelaide and Brisbane.

Lycamobile Pty Ltd has received the penalty in the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane, following a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The company underpaid 10 employees in Brisbane and three in Adelaide a total of $28,034 between February and September, 2011.

Twelve of the employees were foreign nationals who were employed to promote and sell pre-paid mobile phone SIM cards and top-up vouchers. The other employee, based in Brisbane, performed administration duties.

The employees ranged in age from 19 to 36 and several of them were in Australia on student, working holiday and other types of visas.

The employees were engaged on a full-time or casual basis and were generally paid flat rates of $15 an hour. This led to underpayment of their minimum hourly rates and penalty rates for weekend, public holiday, evening and overtime work.

Employees were also variously underpaid casual loadings, wages in lieu of notice and annual leave entitlements. Underpayments of individual employees ranged from $32 to $6869.

Fair Work inspectors discovered the underpayments when they investigated complaints lodged by employees. The underpayments were subsequently rectified.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson, said the Court’s decision sends a message that underpayment of vulnerable workers is a serious matter.

“Young and foreign workers can be particularly vulnerable because they may not fully aware of their workplace rights and are often reluctant to complain, so we place a high priority on taking action to protect them,” Mr Wilson said.

Employers and employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au.

A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50 and information on the website is translated into 27 languages.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has also launched 14 Online videos to assist foreign workers to understand their workplace rights and entitlements.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations,
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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