The Fair Work Ombudsman is today cheering after achieving their largest-ever Court imposed penalty of $400,000 against the operators of a 7-Eleven store. This decision is the latest and greatest outcome in the campaign against franchisees and franchisors systematically exploiting their workers.
In the landmark decision yesterday, Federal Circuit Court Judge, Michael Jarrett found that the penalty imposed on Sheng-Chieh Lo and his company Mai Pty Ltd was warranted given the ‘contemptuous disregard’ he had shown for Australian workplace laws and for ‘deceiving the Fair Work Ombudsman’ with false records.
As well as underpaying employees over $82,000, Mr Lo tried to cover up the extent of the underpayment by providing false records to the Fair Work Inspectors, and by secretly directing the underpaid employees to pay back thousands of dollars of wages to him and his wife. Mr Lo also created false records and submitted false entries into the 7-Eleven head office payroll system.
When asked about directing employees to back-pay wages to him, Mr Lo denied he had ever done such thing, commenting that ‘it would be wrong‘ to do so. Later in the proceedings he admitted what he had done.
Judge Jarrett and Natalie James (Fair Work Ombudsman) say that the harsh penalties recorded yesterday will act as yet another deterrent and strong warning that underpayments are not tolerated, ‘We have minimum pay rates in Australia, they apply to everyone, and they are not negotiable.’
For more information on the 7-Eleven incident clients should contact the HR Assured team. If you’d like more information about the benefits of becoming an HR Assured client contact us today for an informal chat.