Hairdressing salon operators penalised
The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a total of $16,000 in court penalties against the operators of a hairdressing salon in western Sydney.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $13,336 penalty against R&A Barbers Zone Pty Ltd, which operates ‘The Barbers Zone’ in Fairfield, and a $2,664 penalty against company director Arsin Yousif.
The penalties were imposed in response to R&A Barbers Zone failing to comply with Compliance Notices requiring it to back-pay entitlements to a full-time apprentice hairdresser. The worker was an Iraqi national on a humanitarian visa and was aged between 18 and 20 at the time.
Mr Yousif was involved in the contraventions.
R&A Barbers Zone back-paid the worker $13,760 in entitlements owed to him in full only after the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.
“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Ms Parker said.
“Employers also need to be aware that taking action to protect vulnerable workers like young workers and visa holders continues to be a priority for the FWO. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”
Judge Douglas Humphreys considered the employee “particularly vulnerable” and “was taken advantage of” by R&A Barbers Zone and Mr Yousif, who prioritised “their own interests at the expense of the employee’s minimum entitlements.”
Judge Humphreys found the company’s “failure to comply with the compliance notices demonstrates serious disregard” of its obligations under the Fair Work Act and that there was a need to impose penalties that would deter the company from future breaches and “send a message to other employers in the industry to take timely action to comply with notices.”
“A clear message needs to be sent to employers that there will be a cost that outweighs any benefit in underpaying employees their award entitlements,” Judge Humphreys said.
The FWO investigated after receiving a request for assistance from the affected worker who was employed by R&A Barbers Zone at the former Wetherill Park salon between February 2019 and September 2020.
A Fair Work Inspector issued two Compliance Notices to R&A Barbers Zone Pty Ltd in May 2021 after forming a belief the worker had not been paid all entitlements owed under the National Employment Standards and Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010, as well as JobKeeper entitlements.
The Compliance Notices identified that the worker was underpaid the full-time minimum apprentice wage, Saturday penalty rates, annual leave loading, JobKeeper entitlements, and accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements at the end of his employment.
Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.
Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase and information is available for employees and employers at our visa holders, apprentices and trainees and young workers and students webpages.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs, called the Assurance Protocol, where visa holders with work rights can ask for help without fear of their visa being cancelled. Details are at our visa protections webpage.