Commercial laundry business faces court

30 November 2021

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against a commercial laundry business trading as South Pacific Laundry for allegedly underpaying 26 employees more than $26,000.

Facing court are Specialised Linen Services (Sydney) Pty Ltd of Bankstown, NSW; Specialised Linen Services (Adelaide) Pty Ltd of Torrensville, South Australia; Specialised Linen Services (Cairns) Pty Ltd of Portsmith and Paget, Queensland; and Specialised Linen Services (Melbourne) Pty Ltd of Broadmeadows, Victoria.

The regulator investigated the Cairns-based company as part of its Workplace Basics Campaign in 2018 and expanded its investigation to cover multiple companies after receiving anonymous reports.

It is alleged the four companies together underpaid the workers a total of $26,326.12 during periods in January 2018 and between July and October 2018, contravening the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award 2010 and the National Employment Standards.

At the time of the alleged contraventions, one worker was 17 years old and four were visa holders.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said matters involving young workers and visa holders are treated particularly seriously, as they may be vulnerable to workplace exploitation.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to use all powers available to us to hold employers to account when we encounter allegations that involve vulnerable workers,” she said.

“All workers have the same rights in Australia regardless of age or visa status and anyone with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the FWO for free assistance,” Ms Parker said.

The regulator alleges each of the four companies failed to pay overtime penalties to shiftworkers and either did not pay or underpaid shiftwork and certain weekend penalties. It is alleged the Sydney company also failed to pay overtime penalties to non-shiftworkers.

It is further alleged the companies based in Sydney, Adelaide and Cairns underpaid or did not pay public holiday-related penalties; the Sydney company underpaid annual leave entitlements and loading; and the Cairns company did not pay penalties to an employee who took insufficient breaks.

The FWO is seeking court-imposed penalties against all four companies. Each faces a maximum penalty of $63,000 per contravention.

Underpayments were rectified in full in February 2020.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 28 February 2022.

Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

The FWO has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs, called the Assurance Protocol, where visa holders with work rights can seek our help without fear of their visa being cancelled. Information is available at our webpage for visa holder workers. Anonymous reports can be made in English and 16 other languages.

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Media inquiries:

Claire Low, Senior Media Adviser
Mobile: 0418 825 074
claire.low@fwo.gov.au