Adelaide businesses face court over alleged workplace breaches involving 457 visa-holders

February 18 2015

In an Australian first, two Adelaide businesses will face court after refusing to pay on-the-spot fines for their alleged failure to regularly issue payslips to overseas workers recruited from China and India.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced it is taking legal action against both businesses – a Chinese restaurant and a mobile device repair business - after they refused to pay $850 and $550 fines for their alleged workplace contraventions.

Facing legal proceedings in the Industrial Relations Court of South Australia are:

  • Dragon Tea House Pty Ltd, which operates a Chinese restaurant in Pulteney Street and the business manager and majority owner Xiaoxu Zhou, and
  • Glenelg-based mobile device repair business Mobizone Pty Ltd and business manager and part-owner Raymond Kebbe.

Dragon Tea House and Mobizone each face maximum penalties of up to $25,500, while Ms Zhou and Mr Kebbe each face maximum penalties of up to $5100.

The Fair Work Ombudsman audited the two businesses last year as part of its monitoring activity of employers who recruit staff on 457 skilled worker visas.

Dragon Tea House was allegedly failing to issue payslips to a restaurant manager on a 457 visa and a front-of-house employee on a student visa - both from China.

Mobizone allegedly issued payslips infrequently to an Indian telecommunications technician on a 457 visa, and only when he asked for them. 

The Fair Work Act requires employers to issue employees with payslips within one working day of paying their wages.

Fair Work inspectors issued Dragon Tea House with an $850 Infringement Notice and Mobizone with a $550 Infringement Notice, both to be paid within 28 days.

Under workplace law, employers must pay Infringement Notice penalties within the specified period or make a written application for the Notice to be withdrawn.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said inspectors made repeated requests for the two businesses to pay up, but they failed to comply.

It is the first time the Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action solely in relation to payslip contraventions after an Infringement Notice was ignored.

Ms James says Fair Work inspectors identify breaches of workplace laws at thousands of businesses nationally each year and resolve the vast majority by working co-operatively with employers and assisting them to put systems in place to ensure they comply in future.

However, in cases of repeated or blatant breaches of record-keeping or payslip laws, Infringement Notices are an enforcement option that the Agency will use as a deterrent and to promote a culture of compliance.

Ms James says employers should be aware that the Fair Work Ombudsman is willing to initiate legal proceedings where Infringement Notices are subsequently ignored and the Agency believes it is in the public interest to do so.

“We place a high importance on enforcing compliance with payslip obligations, because when employees don’t receive them, it undermines their ability to understand how their wages have been calculated and to check they’ve received their minimum lawful entitlements,” she said.

“It is particularly concerning when vulnerable overseas workers are not provided with payslips, because they are often not fully aware of their rights and entitlements under Australian workplace laws.”

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50.

Helpful online tools include PayCheck Plus to assist business owners and employees determine the correct award and minimum wages for their industry, templates for payslips and time-and-wages records and a range of fact sheets on workplace entitlements.

The My Account tool allows you to save tailored information such as pay rates and conditions of employment specific to your circumstances.

You can log into My Account and view your saved information at any time. You can also submit an enquiry Online and read our response to your enquiry.

Ms James says the Fair Work Ombudsman supports compliant, productive and inclusive Australian workplaces by providing practical advice that is easy to access, understand and apply.

“Equipping people with the information they need encourages and empowers employees and employers to resolve issues in their workplace and build a culture of compliance, ensuring a level playing field for all.”

Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO, the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fairwork.gov.au

Sign up to receive the Fair Work Ombudsman’s media releases direct to your email inbox at www.fairwork.gov.au/mediareleases

Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO external-icon.png, the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au External link icon or find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/fairwork.gov.au External link icon.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Media Director
Mobile: 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

Media inquiries:

Tom McPherson, Media Adviser
Mobile: 0439 835 855
tom.mcpherson@fwo.gov.au

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