The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a total of $19,980 in court penalties against the operators of a bed and breakfast business in northern New South Wales.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $16,650 penalty against Nimos Leisure Pty Ltd, which operates ‘Stannum House’ at Tenterfield, and a further $3,330 penalty against one of the company’s directors, Mohan Lal Siribaddana.
The penalties were imposed in response to Nimos Leisure failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to calculate and back-pay entitlements to a Sri Lankan visa holder it employed at the bed and breakfast as a food and beverage attendant between December 2017 and January 2019.
Mr Siribaddana was involved in the contravention.
Nimos Leisure back-paid the worker his full entitlements only after the FWO commenced legal action.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face penalties in court on top of having to back-pay workers.
“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Ms Parker said.
“Employers also need to be aware that taking action to protect vulnerable workers, like visa holders, is an enduring priority for the agency. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the FWO for free assistance.”
The FWO investigated after receiving a request for assistance from the affected worker.
The Compliance Notice was issued in July 2021 after a Fair Work Inspector formed a belief the worker was underpaid weekend overtime, public holiday penalty rates and annual leave entitlements, owed under the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 and the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards.
Judge Nicholas Manousaridis found the worker, who did not receive full payment until a year after the Compliance Notice was issued, had suffered a loss.
Judge Manousaridis said the rectification of underpayments was unaccompanied by any expression of regret or remorse and there was a need to impose penalties at a level to deter Nimos Leisure and Mr Siribaddana from similar future conduct, and deter employers from failing to comply with Compliance Notices.
“The penalty should be set at a level which demonstrates to employers in general, and to employers in the (Accommodation) Industry in particular, that they would be faced with a meaningful penalty if they fail to comply with a Compliance Notice.”
The FWO has filed 126 litigations involving visa holder workers, and secured more than $13.4 million in court-ordered penalties in visa holder litigations, in the last five full financial years.