The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced legal action against the operators of a Melbourne painting business for allegedly failing to comply with a Fair Work Commission order to pay unfair dismissal compensation and comply with a compliance notice to pay annual leave entitlements owed to a migrant worker.
Facing court is Melbourne’s western suburb Tarneit-based Mehtaab Group Pty Ltd, which operates a business trading as Paint Splash, and the company’s sole director and shareholder, Vikramjeet Singh Khalsa.
FWO began an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from an Indian international student Mehtaab Group had employed for almost a year.
In June 2021, the Fair Work Commission found that earlier that year Mehtaab Group unfairly dismissed the worker.
The Fair Work Commission ordered the company to pay the worker $21,491 compensation, plus superannuation, within two weeks. The company allegedly failed to make the payments to her.
The regulator investigated and attempted to secure voluntary compliance but it is alleged that the compensation remains unpaid.
During the investigation, a Fair Work Inspector also formed a belief that Mehtaab Group failed to pay the worker’s accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements when it dismissed her.
In September 2021, the inspector issued Mehtaab Group a Compliance Notice, which required the company to calculate and back-pay any outstanding entitlements owed to the worker.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Mehtaab Group has breached the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a Fair Work Commission compensation order and by failing to comply with the Compliance Notice. It is alleged Mr Khalsa was involved in both breaches.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the legal action would reinforce the importance of complying with Fair Work Commission orders and Compliance Notices.
“It is fundamental for the integrity of the workplace relations system that Fair Work Commission orders and our Compliance Notices are complied with,” Ms Parker said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman is prepared to take legal action to ensure that employees receive all compensation and entitlements they are lawfully entitled to.”
“If a court finds a Compliance Notice has been breached, they can order a business to pay penalties on top of having to back-pay workers. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice and assistance,” added Ms Parker.
For allegedly failing to comply with the Fair Work Commission order, Mehtaab Group faces a penalty of up to $66,600 and Mr Khalsa faces a penalty of up to $13,320. For allegedly failing to comply with the Compliance Notice, Mehtaab Group faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Khalsa faces a penalty of up to $6,660.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking court orders for the company to pay the outstanding compensation and superannuation owed to the employee, plus interest, and for the company to comply with the Compliance Notice, including by rectifying any underpayment in full. A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 28 July 2022.
Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.