Migrant workers wait six years for $229,000 underpayment

Sydney printer Mega Tabs has paid back its Korean migrant work force the $229,564 it owed them, six years after the underpayment began, 14 months after the Fair Work Ombudsman ordered it to, and one day before the company’s penalty hearing.

In addition to the money it owed workers, Mega Tabs and its owner Lloyd Lam were fined $18,144 following Fair Work Ombudsman court action.

After underpaying workers a sum nearing $230,000, Lam was personally fined $3,024, with the company fined $15,120.

The workers were in Australia from Korea on 417 working holiday visas, and were underpaid in their roles cutting, gluing, and assembling paper and corrugated sheets at Mega Tabs’ Alexandria operations between November 2013 and November 2015.

Individual workers were owed between $4,105 and $36,666. The company finalised the back-payments last week, one day before the penalty hearing and more than 14 months after the deadline.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, the workers were paid a flat hourly rate of $13 that led to underpayments of base rates of pay, casual loading, afternoon and night shift allowances, public holiday penalty rates and overtime rates owed under the Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing Award 2010.

Workers were allegedly entitled to combined base rates and casual loading of between $20.63 and $21.69 per hour, and penalty rates of up to $54 per hour.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said, “This matter should serve as a warning to all employers about the consequences of disregarding Compliance Notices. Fair Work Inspectors use this enforcement tool to promptly address underpayments and we won’t hesitate to take employers to court to enforce them and seek penalties.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman is prioritising the protection of migrant workers, who have the same workplace rights as all Australians but can be particularly vulnerable due to language and cultural barriers, or visa status. Any workers with concerns about their pay should contact us.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs where visa holders can ask for help without fear of their visa being cancelled.

For print business owners, there are many IR services that can help you ensure that you are meeting your legal requirements to your workforce.

Lam was asked for a comment in relation to the underpayment, and to offer advice for other business owners to ensure they do not underpay their workforce, but declined to speak.

 

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