On 4 June 2015, the Federal Court of Australia ordered Choong Enterprises Pty Ltd to pay some $125,956 in total reimbursements for seven of its employees who had been paid as little as $12 an hour between 2009 and 2012.
The company was also ordered to pay $175,400 in pecuniary penalties and its sole director and shareholder, Ronald Choong was ordered to personally pay $800 on the finding that he had aided and abetted the company.
Justice John Mansfield noted that Choong Enterprises, which operates a number of fast food restaurants and cafés, not only failed to pay entitlements such as loadings, sick leave and superannuation contributions, it also failed to comply with record-keeping obligations, produced false pay records and had improperly recovered the costs of migration agent fees from four visa holders.
The warning for employers
Senator Cash made the statement that "the stiff penalty this company has received should send a warning to other sponsors: if you fail to meet your requirements, my Department may impose administrative sanctions, issue an infringement notice, execute an enforceable undertaking, or apply to the federal court for a civil penalty order."
He went on to say that "the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Fair Work Ombudsman are active in ongoing compliance campaigns to ensure that temporary visa holders are being paid in accordance with Australian pay and conditions. This taskforce will greatly complement those existing efforts."
The decision in Minister for Immigration and Border Protection v Choong Enterprises Pty Ltd should serve as a key reminder to employers to be mindful of their obligations owed to employees in regards to wages, record keeping and deductions, particularly those who have employees employed under a 457 visa.
For specific and tailored advice regarding pay and entitlement compliance, do not hesitate to contact our Workplace team.