A former Perth restaurant operator will appear before the Federal Court over claims he unlawfully fired his cook who was on a 457 skilled worker visa. He also reported as having exploited the employee by asking him to repay thousands of dollars of his wages.
The Fair Work Ombudsman who has lodged a statement of claim against Sushil Kumar and his company Bikaner India Pty Ltd, alleges that the restaurant owner underpaid his cook by more than $38000. Mr Kumar is the former owner of Bricklane British Curry House in Leederville.
Khondker Riyadh Hasan, a Bangladeshi national was recruited by Mr Kumar in 2015 and given a contract with an annual salary of $54,000. However, he alleges that he worked close to six or seven days a week, which would often add up to more than 50 hours work per week.
But the exploitation didn’t stop there. Apparently, after paying Mr Hassan, a flat rate of $1634 per fortnight, Kumar and his company would ask the chef to withdraw cash and pay-back $434 of his wages. It is alleged that this illegal cash back arrangement together with the underpayment of contractual and other basic entitlements resulted in Hasan getting short-changed a total of $38,822.
Mr Hassan was later dismissed after he filed a workers’ compensation claim in June last year for a back injury sustained while at work.
The FWO says the dismissal went against the workplace laws and amounted to adverse action against the employee for exercising his rights.
Mr Kumar faces maximum penalties amounting to $10,800 for each of the 13 violations while his company Bikaner India faces fines of up to $54,000 per contravention.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James expressed grave concerns over cash-back arrangements that were being used by unscrupulous employers around the country as a way of getting around record keeping laws and keeping severe underpayment of wages under wraps.
“It is hard to see a legitimate reason why an employer would require employees to be regularly paying back significant parts of their wage,” she said.