Huge penalties for roadhouse operator

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A NSW roadhouse manager has been ordered to pay $118,440 in penalties after being caught out by the Fair Work Ombudsman after trying to deprive an Indian employee of her government-funded parental-leave pay.

After falsely claiming he provided the pay to the employee’s husband, NSW man Kulpreet Singh (the former manager and part-owner of the United Petroleum roadhouse at Marrangaroo), has been penalised $19,720 and the company Mr Singh is a director of, Noorpreet Pty Ltd, a further $98,700.

The penalties, imposed in the Federal Circuit Court, are the result of the FWO’s first legal action against an employer for failing to transfer paid-parental-leave (PPL) funds to an employee. The affected employee worked as a chef at the roadhouse on a 487 ‘skilled regional employer nomination’ visa. She is now an Australian citizen.

After the employee had a child, the Department of Human Services (DHS) transferred $11,538 to Noorpreet in April 2015, for the company to transfer to her as she was entitled to the funds under the PPL scheme. But after making several unsuccessful requests to Singh, the employee complained to the DHS that her employer had not paid up. The DHS was not able to resolve the matter and referred it to the FWO.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says withholding monies funded by taxpayers from a vulnerable worker and lying to the FWO are unacceptable.

“New parents have enough on their minds without having to chase recalcitrant employers over their taxpayer funded paid parental leave,” she said.

“Any employer who thinks they can cover up breaches of work laws by creating false records or lying to Fair Work inspectors – beware! There are new higher penalties for record-keeping breaches and the risk of criminal prosecution for this self-serving and fraudulent conduct.”