A childcare operator is facing court after allegedly failing to pay two workers any wages for a year, telling them they were on an unpaid work experience scheme.
Jan Shang, who owns and operates ‘Joys Child Care’ centre in Parramatta in Sydney, is facing the Federal Circuit Court, accused of not paying the two workers a total of $54,752 in wages, public holiday and annual leave entitlements.
The two women who are from China worked at the centre from February 2016 until February 2017 performing general childcare duties.
It is alleged that in return for the work, Mr Shang told the women that he would pay for their enrolment in a Diploma of Early Childhood Education at a training institute, and provide them with experience and training to meet the practical component of the course.
Vocational placements should only last a short time
Industrial relations advocate Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au said any unpaid work experience or vocational placements should only last for a short time.
“Even if it is a requirement of completing a course, unpaid work experience should not last any longer than a couple of weeks,” he said.
“The fact that this boss has allegedly strung these workers along for a full year of unpaid work is absolutely outrageous.
“The law says that if you are completing work that is benefiting the business, which is appears these women were, then they are entitled to be paid as regular employees.”
Ombudsman found women were not undertaking vocational placement
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated the matter, and determined that because the two workers had performed productive work for Joys Child Care under little or no supervision, they had been employees of the company and were not undertaking a vocational placement.
It is alleged that one of the workers was a full-time employee and was therefore entitled to be paid $35,062 and the other was a part-time employee and was entitled to $19,690.
Fair Work inspectors gave Mr Shang a chance to pay the workers in November, issuing him with two compliance notices, but he failed to do so.
He is now facing a maximum penalty of $6,300 and his company a maximum of $31,500.
“Legitimate internships and vocational placements can be a great way for people to learn or gain skills that can help with finding employment, but if the unpaid work lasts for more than a few weeks, then you probably should be paid,” Mr Heffernan said.
If you have not received your proper wages and entitlements, or are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.
Please call our specialist team at WAGETHEFT.net.au on
1300 1 THEFT (1300 184 338)
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