Ombudsman taking action after Hobart migrant workers allegedly underpaid at petrol stations
By Sourced Externally
January 10, 2024
Four migrant workers from India and Bangladesh have allegedly been underpaid a total of more than $20,000 at Sandy Bay and Kingston’s United Petroleum outlets.
Four migrant workers have allegedly been underpaid a total of more than $20,000 at United Petroleum outlets at Sandy Bay and Kingston.
The Fair Work Ombudsman, Anna Booth, has announced she is taking legal action after the workers, who were in Australia on working visas from India and Bangladesh, were allegedly paid “unlawfully low rates”, as low as $16 per hour.
False pay slips were also allegedly used.
Facing the Federal Circuit Court in an upcoming hearing will be KLM Foods, which operated the Sandy Bay and Kingston outlets, and Vizaan Pty Ltd, which employed a worker at the Kingston outlet.
Loveleen Gupta, who is allegedly involved in the operations of the outlets as the sole director of KLM Foods, is also the husband of Vizaan’s sole director and a respondent in both proceedings.
Vizaan’s sole director is not listed as a respondent.
Ms Booth said one of the workers was a junior, aged between 19 and 20 at the time, and that the four workers were allegedly underpaid between December 2020 and February 2021.
She said they were allegedly paid flat rates from $16 and $23 per hour for a
fixed number of hours per week, and not paid anything for extra hours worked.
Ms Booth said the alleged underpayments were three of the workers were rectified after she began investigating, however it is alleged KLM Foods and Mr Gupta also breached the Fair
Work Act by requiring one of the workers to make an unlawful cashback payment of $6353.
It is also alleged that KLM Foods knowingly provided the Ombudsman with false timesheets, and breached laws related to record-keeping and having written agreements for part-time staff.
A similar action in South Australia, in which three United Petroleum workers were allegedly not paid a total of $2668 in annual leave entitlements by an unrelated company, is also being pursued by the Ombudsman.
The legal proceedings are the result of an investigation involving audits of 20 United Petroleum-branded outlets across Tasmania, Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
KLM Foods and Vizaan matters will face a court directions hearing in Melbourne on February 27.
“Employers need to be aware that taking action to protect potentially vulnerable workers, including visa holders and young workers, is among our top priorities,” Ms Booth said.
“Employees must be paid all entitlements – and pay must cover all hours actually worked.”
She also said inspectors were experienced in testing whether time and wage records were legitimate.