The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the former operators of a greengrocer in Melbourne’s east.
Facing court is Nilkanth Enterprise Pty Ltd, which operated ‘Strawberry Point’ in Forest Hill, and the company’s sole director and shareholder, Ashvinkumar Mavjibhai Chavan.
The regulator investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a casual retail assistant the company employed from May 2021 to May 2022.
The young worker, aged between 21 and 23 at the time of employment, was an international student from India.
A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Nilkanth Enterprise in October 2022 after forming a belief that the company had underpaid the worker’s casual minimum wage and weekend penalty rates, owed under the General Retail Industry Award 2020.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Nilkanth Enterprise, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements. It is alleged Mr Chavan was involved in the contravention.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully 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,”Mr Scully said.
“Taking action to protect vulnerable workers, like visa holders and young workers, continues to be a focus for the FWO. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the FWO for free assistance.”
The FWO is seeking penalties for the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice. Nilkanth Enterprise faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Chavan faces a penalty of up to $6,660.
The regulator is also seeking an order for the company to take the steps set out in the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying the alleged underpayment amount in full, plus interest and superannuation.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 5 October 2023.
The FWO filed 126 litigations involving visa-holder workers, and secured more than $13.4 million in court-ordered penalties in visa-holder litigations, in the five years to June 2022.
Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase and information is available for employees and employers at our visa holders and migrants and young workers and students webpages.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs, called the Assurance Protocol, where visa holders with work rights can ask for help without fear of their visa being cancelled. Details are on our visa protections webpage.
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