An Australian court has imposed a penalty of more than A$57,000 on a Melbourne-based painting company owned by a Sikh man for breaches affecting an Indian student working for it.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court on Thursday imposed a A$47,952 penalty against the Mehtaab Group, which operates a business trading as Paint Splash, and A$9,590.04 against the company's sole director and shareholder, Vikramjeet Singh Khalsa.
The penalties were secured by Australian regulatory authority, Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), which investigated the case after receiving a request for assistance from the affected Indian.
In June 2021, the FWO found that Mehtaab Group unfairly dismissed the worker, following which it ordered the company to pay the worker $21,491 compensation, plus superannuation, within two weeks.
The company failed to make the payments to the Indian, who was employed by the company for almost a year.
During the investigation, a Fair Work Inspector formed a belief that Mehtaab Group failed to pay the worker's accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements when it dismissed her.
In September 2021, the inspector issued Mehtaab Group with a compliance notice, which required the company to calculate and back-pay any outstanding annual leave entitlements owed to the worker.
The Court found the company breached the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a Fair Work Commission order to pay A$21,491.17 in compensation to the worker as a result of an unfair dismissal claim, and failing to comply with an FWO compliance notice to pay outstanding annual leave entitlements to the worker.
The penalties were imposed against Khalsa after the court found he was involved in both breaches.
In addition to the penalties, the court ordered Mehtaab Group to pay the outstanding Fair Work Commission order for unfair dismissal compensation, plus superannuation, and to calculate and back-pay the annual leave entitlements owing to the worker.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator was prepared to take action to reinforce the importance of complying with Fair Work Commission orders and FWO compliance notices.
"The Fair Work Ombudsman is prepared to take legal action to ensure that employees receive all compensation and entitlements they are lawfully entitled to. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the FWO for free advice and assistance."
The FWO has filed 126 litigations involving visa holder workers, and secured more than A$13.4 million in court-ordered penalties in visa holder litigations, in the past five full financial years.