FWO starts legal action against United Petroleum outlets

FWO United Petroleum
The FWO is taking companies and individuals to court.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is going to court over alleged underpayments of workers at three United Petroleum outlets in Tasmania and South Australia.

The FWO alleges four migrant workers at Tasmania’s Sandy Bay and Kingston outlets were underpaid a total of more than $20,000. It alleges they were paid flat hourly rates between $16 and $23 for a fixed number of hours per week, and not paid for extra time worked.

The workers from India and Bangladesh were in Australia on visas; one was aged 19-20.

Two companies and one individual face separate court actions in relation to the allegations. KLM Foods Pty Ltd operated the Sandy Bay and Kingston outlets; Vizaan Pty Ltd employed a worker at the Kingston outlet.

The FWO alleges Loveleen Gupta, the husband of Vizaan’s sole director, is involved in the operations of the Sandy Bay and Kingston outlets as KLM Foods’ sole director.

Alleged breaches of record-keeping

It alleges both firms knowingly supplied workers with false pay slips and KLM Foods provided the FWO with incorrect timesheets.

After the FWO began its investigation the alleged underpayments for three of the workers were rectified.

However, KLM Foods and Loveleen Gupta allegedly breached the Fair Work Act by demanding one worker make an unlawful cashback payment of $6,353.

There were also alleged breaches of record-keeping and part-time staff agreement laws.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the FWO takes seriously allegations of underpayments to visa holders.

“Employers need to be aware that taking action to protect potentially vulnerable workers, including visa holders and young workers, is among our top priorities.

“Employees must be paid all entitlements – and pay must cover all hours actually worked.

“The alleged providing of false records is serious and unacceptable conduct. Employers should be aware our experienced inspectors will test whether time and wages records are legitimate. If you use false records you will be found out.”

FWO takes action in South Australia

In South Australia, the FWO is taking one firm and the outlet’s manager to court over alleged non-payment of annual leave entitlements at the end of employment.

Two of the three workers at Queenstown in Adelaide were international students.

Sai Enterprises Pty Ltd operated the outlet and is also alleged to have breached workplace laws by failing to issue the workers with pay slips at the right time, and not providing written agreements for part-time staff.

The FWO asserts the store manager Raman Monga was involved in the failures to pay annual leave for two of the workers and in the pay slips breach for all three workers.

The Queenstown outlet workers were back-paid in full once the FWO investigated the issue.

FWO seeks penalties

The FWO is seeking penalties against KLM Foods, Vizaan, Sai Enterprises, Gupta and Monga for multiple alleged contraventions.

The companies face fines of up to $66,600 per contravention while Gupta and Monga could be fined $13,320 for each breach. The alleged unlawful cashback contravention could cost Gupta $16,500, and KLM Foods Pty Ltd faces a penalty up to $82,500.

The FWO is also seeking a court order requiring KLM Foods to rectify the alleged cashback underpayment.