Legal action against supermarket for allegedly underpaying Indian migrant worker

The business faces a penalty of up to $66,600 and operator faces a penalty of up to $13,320 for the alleged failure to issue pay slips.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operators of an Indian supermarket in Darwin’s north.

Facing court is Om Shiva Foods Pty Ltd, trading as Wulagi Supermarket, and the company’s sole director Vinay Madasu.

The regulator investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a casual retail assistant, a visa holder from India, who was employed at the supermarket between February 2020 and August 2021.

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A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Om Shiva Foods in October 2022 after forming a belief that the worker had been underpaid minimum wages, and penalty and overtime rates for working weekends and public holidays, owed under the General Retail Industry Award 2010 and General Retail Industry Award 2020.

It is alleged that the worker is owed more than $68,000.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Om Shiva Foods, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements. A breach of pay slip laws is also alleged.

Mr Madasu was allegedly involved in the contraventions.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” Ms Booth said.

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“Employers should also be aware that taking action to protect vulnerable workers like visa holders is a priority for the FWO. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”

The FWO is seeking penalties in court. Om Shiva Foods faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Madasu faces a penalty of up to $6,660 for the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice.

In addition, Om Shiva Foods faces a penalty of up to $66,600 and Mr Madasu faces a penalty of up to $13,320 for the alleged failure to issue pay slips.

The regulator is also seeking an order for the company to rectify the alleged underpayment amount in full, plus interest and superannuation.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Brisbane on 4 December 2023.

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