Court action over alleged $22,000 underpayment of six foreign cleaners in Perth

28 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 Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against a Perth cleaning company, alleging it underpaid six foreign cleaners a total of more than $22,000.  

Facing court is the company trading as Housekeeping Pty Ltd, as well as the business’s manager, Catherine Paino-Povey.

It is alleged the company underpaid six cleaning employees a total of $22,510 between June, 2011 and January, 2012.

The workers, aged in their 20s and 30s, were foreign nationals from Taiwan, China, New Zealand and Ireland. The Chinese employee spoke little English.

It is alleged the employees regularly worked nine to 10 hours a day cleaning homes at various locations in suburban Perth but were paid for only 7.6 hours.

It is alleged that the employees were also underpaid overtime and penalty rates, had money unlawfully deducted from their wages and were underpaid leave, meal break and travelling time entitlements.

It is alleged the employees were underpaid amounts ranging from $581 to $4554 despite each working for the company for a period of only one to three months.

Workplace laws relating to pay slips, frequency of payments, keeping employment records and complying with Notices to Produce Employment Records were allegedly also breached.

Fair Work Inspectors discovered the alleged breaches when they investigated complaints lodged by workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson, said the significant amount involved and vulnerability of the foreign workers were key factors in the decision to prosecute.

Mrs Paino-Povey was allegedly involved in the company trading as Housekeeping Pty Ltd committing several breaches of workplace laws. They face penalties of up to $6600 per breach and up to $33,000 per breach respectively.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a Court Order for back-payment. A hearing is listed in the Federal Magistrates Court in Perth on 6 August 2013.

Employers or 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.

Media inquiries:

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

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