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Court penalises Queensland farm for underpaying workers

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
10 July 2020 1 minute readShare
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A mushroom farm from a town south of Brisbane has been hit with a penalty by the Federal Court after deciding it had underpaid 80 of its workers.

The court imposed the $22,440 penalty against Tao Hu, who operated labour-hire company HRS Country Pty Ltd in Stapylton, Queensland, before it went into liquidation in 2016.

Ms Hu admitted that she was involved in underpaying 80 employees a total of $78,664 over an eight-month period in 2014.

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The court ordered that Ms Hu’s penalty be distributed by the Fair Work Ombudsman to the employees to partially rectify the underpayments, which remain outstanding.

The workers were employed by Ms Hu’s labour-hire company, which was contracted to supply labour to the farm.

 

Some of the underpaid employees were migrant workers, including visa holders, and were paid a flat hourly rate of $16.37.

The Fair Work Commission said the flat rate was insufficient to meet the minimum hourly rate, casual loading and public holiday rates the employees were entitled to under the Horticulture Award 2010.

The employees were also not provided with paid rest breaks they were entitled to under the award and a payslip law was contravened.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said taking action to improve compliance levels in the horticulture industry remains a priority for the regulator.

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“The Fair Work Ombudsman discovered these underpayments during the Harvest Trail Inquiry which was aimed at improving compliance with workplace laws across the horticulture industry,” Ms Parker said.

“The horticulture sector employs a significant number of vulnerable workers, and it is important that we take actions to ensure that they are receiving their full, lawful wages and entitlements.

“We continue to monitor employers along the harvest trail, and any workers with concerns should contact us.”

Court penalises Queensland farm for underpaying workers
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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