The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against Rockhampton-based business Alertvale Pty Ltd, which operates a number of businesses providing services in the mining and heavy industry sector.
It is alleged that Alertvale failed to pay the four weeks’ redundancy entitlements of two employees when it terminated their employment without notice and effective immediately in February 2016, stating it was due to a “significant downturn in business”.
Both workers were Filipino nationals and had been sponsored by Alertvale on 457 skilled migrant visas for more than a year.
It is alleged that the company also underpaid the wages-in-lieu-of-notice-of-termination the workers were entitled to and unlawfully deducted $1,915 from their wages for training.
It is alleged the workers were underpaid a combined total of $9,931.
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated after receiving requests for assistance from the workers. Alertvale back-paid the workers after being contacted by Fair Work inspectors.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah says a decision was made to commence legal action because vulnerable overseas workers had allegedly been deprived of a significant amount in termination entitlements.
“We treat very seriously cases in which employers allegedly fail to provide basic lawful entitlements to vulnerable employees,” Ms Hannah said.
“Non-payment of termination entitlements such as redundancy pay can have a significant impact on employees, depriving them of a crucial safety net until they obtain a new job.
“We are conscious that migrant workers can be particularly vulnerable due to a lack of awareness of their entitlements, language barriers and a reluctance to complain.
“Alertvale has employed a number of 457 visa holders and it is important that we impress upon the company the need to pay these workers their full lawful entitlements.”
Alertvale faces penalties of up to $54,000 per contravention for multiple alleged contraventions of workplace laws.
A hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on 4 June 2018.