A nail salon operator has been caught for a second time stealing from his workers.
The case has prompted employment law experts to renew the call for criminal penalties for wage theft.
Nail salon operator ripped off five staff
Albert Tran used to run the Citi Nails & Beauty outlet in the Westfield Tea Tree Plaza shopping centre in Adelaide.
The Federal Circuit Court penalised Tran$10,560 for ripping off five nail technicians a total of $7,493.
Most of the wage theft involved one employee who Tran incorrectly classified as a ‘trainee’.
The other workers missed out on lawful minimal hourly rates, casual loadings and also weekend penalty rates.
Nail salon operator repeat offender
This is the second time the Fair Work Ombudsman has caught Tran underpaying his workers.
Three years previously, the regulator warned him about the importance of paying proper wages and entitlements.
Inspectors discovered the additional wage theft during a later follow-up audit of the salon.
Meanwhile, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan called on governments to introduce criminal penalties for wage theft.
“Current sanctions are clearly not deterring bosses like Mr Tran from stealing their workers’ wages,” he said.
“The law considers other forms of theft as criminal conduct – therefore, wage theft should be no different.”
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Meanwhile, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator will use accessorial liability provisions to hold business operators to account.
“We consider matters particularly seriously when business operators fail to pay correct wages after being educated about their obligations under workplace laws,” she said.
“This shows a wilful disregard of the law that deserves significant penalties,” Ms Parker said.
In addition the penalty, the court also ordered Tran to complete Fair Work’s online learning courses.
He has subsequently back-paid the employees in full.
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