The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced litigation in the Federal Circuit Court against Jakoub Abboud and his company Hair-Rass Me Pty Ltd, which formerly operated a salon of the same name at the Westfield Penrith shopping center.
Hair-Rass Me allegedly underpaid the employee $14,507 between July 2015 and July 2016, when she was aged between 15 and 17.
It is alleged that the apprentice generally worked 50-hour weeks but was paid weekly amounts that were not sufficient to cover all of her entitlements under the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010.
For example, it is alleged that in one week, the apprentice was paid $300 despite being entitled to $653.90.
Most of the alleged underpayment relates to overtime entitlements.
The FWO alleges the company also failed to correctly pay minimum apprentice rates for ordinary hours, penalty rates for weekends and public holidays and annual leave entitlements.
It is alleged that Hair-Rass Me also failed to pay any superannuation for the apprentice and failed to reimburse her the cost of a training course, as required under the award. Pay slip laws were also allegedly breached.
It is also alleged that Mr Abboud and his company breached workplace laws during the FWO investigation by failing to comply with a Notice to Produce employment records.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, said the involvement of a vulnerable young worker and the failure to rectify the matter were key factors in the decision to commence legal action.
“We treat alleged underpayment of young workers particularly seriously because we are aware they can be vulnerable, particularly in the early years of employment, as they are often unaware of their rights, heavily reliant on their employers and reluctant to complain,” said Ms James.
“We are especially concerned in matters where, as we allege in this case, parties fail to comply with our formal requests for documents we see as being material to getting to the bottom of what’s occurred.”
The FWO has previously dealt with Mr Abboud and will allege that he was aware of the lawful obligation to pay minimum award entitlements.
Hair-Rass Me Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $63,000 per contravention and Mr Abboud of up to $12,600 per contravention.
The FWO is also seeking orders for Hair-Rass Me and Mr Abboud to back-pay the alleged underpayments with interest, and pay the superannuation allegedly owed.
Employers and employees can seek assistance at www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50 and information on the website is translated into 40 languages.