A cleaning contractor has been hit with a huge $144,000 penalty for ripping off three casual employees.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has previously warned David Hinchcliffe, and his company Davdot Facilities Services about wage theft.
Cleaning contractor penalised
In the recent case, Hinchcliffe and his company underpaid the three workers a total of $10,428 over a period of 10-months.
The employees worked as cleaners at various hotels in Melbourne at which Davdot Facilities Services held cleaning contracts.
The Federal Circuit Court found Hinchcliffe failed to make any payments to the workers for various periods of employment.
He also failed to keep employee records and provide pay slips.
Finally, Hinchcliffe failed to provide records and documents to Fair Work inspectors.
Wage theft mainly affected one worker
Most of the wage theft involved one worker from South Korea who Hinchcliffe underpaid a total of $8,294.
Judge Grant Riethmuller described the underpayments as “very significant to two of the employees (given their income levels)”.
Hinchcliffe back-paid the workers when Fair Work commenced litigation.
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Penalties not tough enough
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan said the penalties awarded against Hinchcliffe were not tough enough.
“Wage theft is rampant in industries such as cleaning contracting,” he said.
“The fact that this employer is a repeat offender proves that current monetary penalties do not work as a deterrent to wage theft.”
Mr Heffernan once again called for the introduction of criminal penalties for employers who underpay their staff.
“Wage theft is stealing, and like all other forms of stealing, it should be a crime,” he said.
In addition to the penalties, Judge Riethmuller ordered Hinchcliffe and his company to pay interest on the workers’ back-payments.
He also ordered Hinchcliffe to engage an external auditor to check his workplace practices and rectify any other additional underpayments.
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