Employer Fined for Withholding Parental Leave Funds from Worker in Australia
The employer has been fined for failing to transfer the amount due to a woman employee for paid parental leave.
An Indian-origin man from New South Wales, Australia, has been ordered to pay a fine of about A$118,000 for attempting to withhold his employee’s government-funded parental leave, SBS reported.
Kulpreet Singh, a manager at the United Petroleum roadhouse at Marrangaroo, and director of Noorpreet Pty Ltd, had employed an Indian woman as a chef on a 487 skilled regional employer nomination visa.
The 29-year-old woman, who is now an Australian citizen, gave birth to a child in April 2015, following which the Department of Human Services (DHS) deposited $11,538 with her employer’s company for it to be transferred to her under the Commonwealth’s Paid Parental Leave initiative. When she did not receive the money after repeated requests, the victim contacted the DHS.
An investigation by Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Australia’s national workplace rights group, uncovered that Singh made fake documents to show that he had paid the amount in full to the woman’s husband, a month after the birth of their child. He did end up paying the amount in full more than five months after the deadline, the report said.
Singh admitted to committing a number of violations, including a contravention of the Paid Parental Leave Act, misleading bookkeeping, in court. The court fined him A$19,720, while his company Noorpreet Pty Ltd will need to pay a further A$98,700.
Singh’s attempt to take advantage of a vulnerable employee was unacceptable, FWO’s Natalie James said, according to the report. “New parents have enough on their minds without having to chase recalcitrant employers over their taxpayer-funded paid parental leave,” she said. “Any employer thinking they can cover up breaches of work laws by creating false records, or lying to Fair Work inspectors – beware.”
James also pointed out that business operators should be aware that the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 has introduced higher penalties, put in effect from September last year, for a range of contraventions, including serious record-keeping breaches.
Some of Singh’s reasons for failure to make the payment were “absurd,” Judge Nick Nicholls said. “Singh was, to be blunt, well and truly caught out by the FWO, perpetrating a deliberate falsehood in relation to false payment record,” he said.
The Australian Business Number of Singh’s company Noorpreet was cancelled in 2016. While the company is no longer operational, Nicholls said that the penalty needed to “service as a general deterrent to others in the hospitality industry.”