$306,000 penalty for Perth cleaning operators

A Perth cleaning company has been hit with near-record WA penalties of $306,000 for underpaying workers at a Perth hotel.

Perth man Blagojce Djoneski has been penalised $51,000 and his company Goldfinger Facility Management Pty Ltd has been penalised $255,000, in the Federal Circuit Court.

In addition, the Court has ordered the company to rectify $26,627 in underpayments of six workers it underpaid for various periods of work in 2014.

The penalties and back-payment order are the result of an investigation and legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

In 2014, Djoneski's company had a cleaning contract with The Melbourne Hotel, located in the Perth CBD, and four of the underpaid workers were overseas workers that the company supplied to work as housekeepers at the hotel.

The housekeepers - three from South Korea and one from the UK -  were in Australia on 417 working holiday visas at the time. Three of them were aged under 25.

They were each paid nothing despite performing between two and four weeks' work at the hotel, leaving them owed a combined $9359.

Goldfinger also failed to pay any wages to a fifth overseas worker - an Indian national employed as a marketing specialist on a Temporary Business Entry Visa (Class UC) - who was entitled to more than $4000 for 18 weeks' work.

The sixth underpaid worker - an Australian citizen who was a general manager at Goldfinger - was paid some wages but was short-changed more than $13,000.

Pay slip laws were also contravened.

In his judgment, Judge Antoni Lucev said the contraventions were "serious" and that the underpayment of the five overseas workers included "a complete, conscious and deliberate failure on the part of Goldfinger and Mr Djoneski to pay the employees at all".

Judge Lucev said there had been "a complete disregard for Goldfinger's legal obligations as an employer" and there had been an "absence of any expression of contrition, regret or acceptance of wrongdoing" from Djoneski and his company.

Judge Lucev also said the underpayment sums "were very significant to the employees" and that the "the penalty to be imposed should reflect the deliberate nature of the contraventions".

The $306,000 in penalties are the second largest secured by the Fair Work Ombudsman in a Western Australian case.

The largest penalties of $343,860 were secured against a Perth cleaning company trading as Housekeeping Pty Ltd and its manager  Catherine Paino-Povey in 2013 for deliberately underpaying six cleaners, including five overseas workers.

The penalties against Djoneski and his company are also the seventh largest nationally in any case brought by the Fair Work Ombudsman, with three of the top seven cases involving a cleaning business.

Your Legal Obligations

To avoid big fines and penalties, and expensive back-pay orders, employers must pay employees correctly in accordance with Australian employment laws such as the Fair Work Act 2009.

Employers must also issue pay slips within one working day, even when an employee is on leave, to meet their record-keeping obligations.

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