The Federal Court ordered the employer, Kit Antony (Tony) Lam, to pay penalties of $32,500 and his former wife, Ming Wei (Tiffanie) Tong, to pay $5,000 in penalties.
Mr Lam and Ms Wong agreed that the female employee worked at times up to 82 hours per week during her employment with the family between May 2016 and May 2017, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The employee, who was aged 26 when she began her work, was a citizen of the Philippines and her employment with Mr Lam was her first job in Australia, and she lived with the then couple and their two young children in the Sydney CBD throughout her employment.
Mr Lam paid the worker Php40,000 (Philippine pesos) per month into her Philippines-based bank account. Across the 12 months of her work, this was the equivalent of a total A$12,574.
The parties agreed that under the Miscellaneous Award 2010, the employee should have received the equivalent of A$105,809 for hours worked.
All underpayments were rectified last year, three years after the employee ceased work.
The parties also agreed that the employee had been unreasonably required to work for more than 38 hours per week, in breach of the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards, and that Ms Tong was involved in this particular breach.
In addition, there was also annual leave, record-keeping and payslip breaches.
Further, Mr Lam admitted the amounts paid to the employee resulted in underpayments of base rates and penalty rates, including those owed for early morning and night hours, overtime hours and public holidays.
Justice Nye Perram said the contraventions relating to underpayments and the working of “excessive” hours were “quite serious”.
“Mr Lam’s conduct was deliberate in the sense he decided to hire a domestic worker and nanny from overseas and to pay her outside the Australian regulatory framework,” Justice Perram said.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the case highlighted the consequences if employers require unreasonable hours of their employees.
“The scale of the underpayments in this matter was particularly concerning to the Fair Work Ombudsman,” Ms Parker said.
“We viewed the employee as a vulnerable worker because she was new to Australia, resided with her employer, and did not know her workplace rights.”