Indian-Origin Man Among Retail Store Operators Fined for Underpaying Indian Workers in Australia

Avinash Pratap Singh, the manager and part-owner of the 7-Eleven fuel outlet in East Brisbane, has been penalized A$32,130.


Operators of a 7-Eleven outlet in Brisbane, including an Indian-origin manager and part-owner, have been penalized for short-changing overseas workers and creating false records to try to cover it up by the Australian Federal Circuit Court, the Fair Work Ombudsman said in a statement on June 5.

Avinash Pratap Singh, the manager and part-owner of the 7-Eleven fuel outlet, in East Brisbane, has been penalized A$32,130. A company that Singh is a director of — S & A Enterprises (QLD) Pty Ltd — has been penalized an additional amount of $160,650. In addition to imposing the penalties, the judge ordered Singh and S & A Enterprises to pay A$2747 in Fair Work Ombudsman legal costs.

“S & A Enterprises was also ordered by the court to commission an audit of its compliance with workplace laws. It was also asked to resolve any non-compliance issues discovered and to display an in-store notice containing information about minimum employee entitlements,” the statement said.

Following media reports about the outlet in 2015, Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors investigated the outlet and subsequent legal action was taken by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Inspectors found that the employees were two international students from India in their mid-20s, who had been underpaid a total of A$5593 for short periods of work in 2014.

“One employee was underpaid A$4439, which was 25 per cent of his entitlement, over a five-month period, while the other was underpaid A$1154, which was 41 per cent of his entitlement, over a seven-week period. The underpayments have been rectified,” the statement added.

Singh and S & A Enterprises admitted in court that they paid the employees flat hourly rates as low as $14.14 an hour, resulting in the underpayment of minimum hourly rates, overtime rates and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work.

Singh and S & A Enterprises also made false entries into the 7-Eleven head office payroll system and the company knowingly provided false time-and-wage records to Fair Work Ombudsman.

“Entering of inaccurate hours and pay rates into the payroll system created records that appeared to show that the employees were paid at the rates of pay prescribed by the modern award, including penalty rates and overtime rates of pay, which actually bore no relation to their hours of work or actual hourly rates,” said judge Salvatore Vasta.

The Fair Work Ombudsman had to use fuel dip and cash register sign-in and sign-out records to assess the employees’ correct hours of work. Singh and the company also flouted workplace laws by failing to fully comply with two Notices to Produce issued by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Recently, a cleaning company was fined A$132,217 by the Federal Circuit Court for underpaying overseas workers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 2014. The Australian court also imposed a fine on two Indian former owners of the company which subcontracted overseas workers to the cleaning company.

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