The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against a Victorian massage parlour operator, alleging that it underpaid a Chinese worker more than $13,000 and provided false records to inspectors.
Fair Work has also commenced action against the accounting firm engaged by the company, Keith Golding & Associates Pty Ltd, alleging that it was involved in the company’s false-records breaches, under accessorial liability laws.
Austop Natural Therapy and Supplies Pty Ltd, which operates a massage parlour trading as Yin’s Chinese Massage in Bacchus Marsh and formerly operated a massage parlour under the same trading name in Ballarat, will face the Federal Circuit Court.
Company director Yusen Yin and company secretary Wenhua Liu have also been referred, alleging that they were involved in the underpayments.
Between December 2016 and July 2017, Austop allegedly paid the employee a percentage of the total price of each massage she performed at its Ballarat business, rather than paying her an hourly rate of pay according to her entitlements under the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010.
This resulted in alleged underpayment of the employee’s ordinary hourly rates, overtime rates, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, superannuation and annual leave entitlements. The company also allegedly failed to ensure she did not work on more than six consecutive days.
According to Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker, the accounting firm Keith Golding & Associates provided inspectors with records, including payslips, they knew to be false or misleading.
Keith Golding & Associates Pty Ltd faces a maximum penalty of up to $21,000 per breach. Ms Yin and Ms Liu face penalties of up to $12,600 per contravention and the maximum penalty for Austop Natural Therapy and Supplies Pty Ltd is up to $63,000 per contravention.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman will use accessorial liability laws to hold professional services firms to account if they are involved in breaching workplace laws,” Ms Parker said.
“Third parties such as accountants should be aware that they can be ordered by a court to pay employees’ unpaid wages and entitlements, as well as penalties, if found to be involved.”
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 30 April 2019.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.