Workers allegedly underpaid

By Country News on May 26, 2017
  • Workers allegedly underpaid

    A Melbourne fruit and vegetable operator is facing court for allegedly providing false records to the Fair Work Ombudsman and for underpaying more than $130000 to two workers.

A Melbourne fruit and vegetable operator is facing court for allegedly providing false records to the Fair Work Ombudsman and for underpaying more than $130000 to two workers.

Stephen Fanous is the director of A & S Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables, which trades as Parkmore Fruit and Vege Market and Melbourne MarketPlace and operates a range of retail fruit and vegetable and flower stores across Melbourne shopping centres.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has initiated proceedings against the company, Mr Fanous and operations manager Etherah Louli.

It is alleged the company paid inadequate hourly rates, including flat rates of pay, while underpaying two workers $132956 between February, 2012 and December, 2014.

One of these workers, employed as a manager at a retail fruit and vegetable business in Chirnside Shopping Centre, was allegedly underpaid $114977.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims this employee, who was from a non-English-speaking background, was underpaid for all the 130 hours per fortnight he worked on average, including being paid just $10 per hour in cash for all hours after the first 76.

It is alleged the records in relation to this employee’s work were so sub-standard, inspectors had to reconstruct time records using toll information from the company vehicle he travelled in for work purposes.

The second worker, a qualified florist, was allegedly underpaid for her work at retail florist businesses operated by the company at shopping centres in Fountain Gate, Parkmore and Dandenong.

It is alleged another worker, aged 17 when she began at the Chirnside business, was paid $10 per hour for all hours worked.

The teenager’s total underpayments were unable to be calculated due to the company’s alleged non-compliant record keeping.

It is alleged the company, A & S Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables Pty Ltd, kept false or misleading records in relation to the manager as it did not record any hours worked in excess of 76 hours per fortnight or any details of the cash payments.

The company also allegedly provided a payroll record to the Fair Work Ombudsman which gave a false work commencement date for one worker.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the agency used a range of evidence to calculate the alleged underpayments.

The Fair Work Ombudsman will seek orders for penalties against the company, Mr Fanous and Ms Louli, and rectification for the $132956 in wages owed.

‘‘For the first time, we are also seeking court orders requiring a business to place notices on its premises providing employees with information on how to access and download the Record My Hours app,’’ Ms James said.

The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on August 3.

By Country News on May 26, 2017

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