UnionsWA has welcomed the release today by the WA Government of the report of the inquiry into wage theft led by Tony Beech, former Chief Commissioner of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The report and response by the government are available online here.
Meredith Hammat, Secretary, UnionsWA said:
“This report confirms that wage theft is widespread – from Woolworths to pilots, from unpaid overtime by our public service workers to modern slavery through to those working in local cafes.
“The time for action has arrived.
“Quicker response times to complaints, regular pro-active audits of employer accounts, harsher penalties for offenders, including criminal charges for serious cases, and stronger protections for whistle-blowers are urgently needed.
“Regular, intentional and unlawful under-payment of wages – wage theft – can have devastating consequences for working people.
“It is widespread but often hidden because of intimidation and because vulnerable working people are often affected - young people, those in insecure work or those born overseas, including workers with only temporary work visa rights such as students and tourists.
“Victims can be left with little or no income from wages and may be unable to claim Centrelink income support.
“Understandably people are very distressed by such theft; their confidence in employers, workplaces and our laws are harmed.
“Employers who engage in wage theft are not just making unintended mistakes.
“They are often also evading their obligations to provide workers’ compensation and superannuation.
“This inquiry, headed by former Chief Commissioner of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, Tony Beech, has been a credible one, adding further to the now long list of wage theft offenses that reported in our media.”
Recent reported WA wage theft cases from 2019
8 November 2019
A Perth restaurant owner has been ordered by the Industrial Magistrates Court to pay a penalty of $1,500 for failing to provide employment records to a State Industrial Inspector. Mr Kamran Beykpour, the owner of SafaCity restaurant in Mount Lawley, was also ordered to pay costs of $1,000 and to produce the required employment records within seven days. The Court matter arose from Mr Beykpour being served with a Notice to Produce Records by the Industrial Inspector as part of a 2018 compliance investigation into whether Mr Beykpour had correctly paid a staff member at his Walcott Street restaurant, which has now closed. Mr Beykpour currently operates a SafaCity restaurant in Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley.
2 October 2019
The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured penalties of $40,260 against operators of a scenic and commercial helicopter flights business in regional Western Australia that underpaid two pilots. The Federal Circuit Court ordered Broome Helicopter Services Pty Ltd to pay $33,550, while the company’s sole director and chief pilot Joseph Hans Calandra was ordered to pay $6,710. Broome Helicopter Services underpaid two pilots $10,500 across a six-month period in 2012 through failures to pay minimum hourly rates for ordinary hours, annual leave and other entitlements under the Air Pilots Award. The company also failed to provide the two employees pay slips within one day of being paid, made misleading payslips that understated hours worked, and failed to make annual leave records and provide a roster seven days in advance as required. Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the penalties were a reminder to all employers to check that they are complying with workplace laws.
15 August 2019
A Han’s Café franchisee south of Perth will back-pay 16 workers $27,086 and overhaul its workplace practices, following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Theo Jose Dominic Sayoco, Grace Bela-Ong Sayoco, and the company T J D Sayoco Pty Ltd, trading as Han's Café Mandurah, have entered into a Court-Enforceable Undertaking with the workplace regulator. Inspectors found that waiters were receiving hourly rates between $16.39 and $19, despite being entitled to ordinary hourly rates including casual loading of $24.41 on weekdays, $29.30 on weekends and $48.83 on public holidays
12 August 2019
The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against WA labour-hire business, Corporation Sun Pty Ltd, and its part-owner and chief executive, Michael Le. The regulator alleges that Corporation Sun and Mr Le breached the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring the company to back-pay $20,011 to 11 underpaid workers. Fair Work Inspectors investigated after receiving requests for assistance from workers, and formed a reasonable belief that employees were paid unlawfully low rates for sorting and packing fruit at Taddei Orchards, near Gingin. The affected workers are all Taiwanese nationals, aged between 22 and 30, who were in Australia on working holiday visas. The FWO alleges the employees were underpaid between $290 to $3,433 for work performed between January and October 2017.