A Victorian massage parlour operator is accused of ripping off a Chinese worker by more than $13,000.
In addition, the Fair Work Ombudsman accuses the company of providing false records to inspectors.
As a result, they are facing the Federal Circuit Court.
Massage parlour operator accused of ripping off Chinese worker
Yusen Yin, director of Austop Natural Therapy, and company secretary Wenhua Liu, allegedly underpaid the worker at the Yin’s Chinese Massage outlet in Ballarat.
Also facing court is accounting firm, Keith Golding and Associates, which allegedly created false pay records.
Worker paid percentage of each massage
Austop allegedly paid the Chinese therapist a percentage of the price of each massage, instead of paying her an hourly rate.
As a result, the company failed to pay her:
- ordinary hourly rates;
- overtime rates;
- weekend and public holiday penalty rates;
- superannuation; and
- annual leave entitlements.
The company also allegedly failed to ensure the worker did not work more than six consecutive days.
Fair Work also alleges Austop Natural Therapy breached workplace laws by failing to issue pay slips to staff.
Employee complained to Fair Work
The therapist worked in Australia on a subclass 462 Work and Holiday Visa.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said inspectors discovered the alleged wage theft and other breaches after the worker made a complaint.
“We prioritise any requests for assistance from migrant workers, who can be particularly vulnerable due to language or cultural barriers and may not be aware of their workplace rights.
“All employees in Australia have the same rights at work, regardless of citizenship or visa status, and we encourage anyone with concerns about their pay to contact us.”
Penalties not tough enough
Keith Golding & Associates face a maximum penalty of $21,000 per breach, and Yin and Liu $12,600 per contravention.
Furthermore, Austop Natural Therapy faces a maximum penalty of $63,000 per contravention.
Despite the monetary penalties, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says it’s not enough.
“Current penalties are not working as a deterrent against wage theft,” he said.
“Wage theft is a crime, and the system must treat it as a crime.
“Workers will continue to be ripped off until courts start locking up dodgy bosses.”
In this case, the employer has back-paid most of the $13,522 owed to the worker.
The Federal Circuit Court has listed a directions hearing in Melbourne on 30 April, 2019.
NOTE: The Fair Work Ombudsman makes no allegations against the current operators of Yin’s Chinese Massage in Ballarat.
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