Another company guilty of wage theft avoids court action
Another company guilty of wage theft has avoided court action, after Fair Work let them off the hook.
Instead of commencing litigation against the employer for wage theft, the regulator entered into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU).
Another company guilty of wage theft
Labour hire company Cherries Farm Employment Agency and its director Ms Hsin-Jung Hsieh admitted underpaying a Chinese worker $12,933.
The company employed the woman to sort and pack vegetables between July 2017 and April last year.
Cherries Farm paid her $15 an hour in cash, despite the relevant award stipulating $23.51 an hour, up to $35.27 on Saturdays and up to $47.02 for overtime hours.
The company also provided Fair Work inspectors with false and misleading records to cover up the unlawful cash payments.
The Enforceable Undertaking
Under the terms of the EU, Cherries Farm will back-pay the worker and issue an apology on its social media platforms.
It has also promised to change its business practices to ensure it complies with workplace laws.
Moreover, it will engage independent auditors to check for any other additional wage theft.
Finally, Cherries Farm will make a contrition payment of $5,000 to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
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Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan has long criticised Fair Work’s use of EUs.
“If an employer makes a genuine mistake, an EU is probably appropriate,” he said
“However, in cases of deliberate or reckless wage theft, or where employers provide false documentation to inspectors, Fair Work should haul them before the courts.
“These cosy EU agreements effectively let greedy bosses off the hook with little or no penalty – and that’s if they ever get caught.”
Mr Heffernan said the best remedy for reckless or deliberate wage theft is criminal penalties.
“Monetary penalties do not work – so it’s time we started charging dodgy bosses with the crime of stealing and see some of them receive recorded convictions and even jail sentences,” he said.
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