Shepparton News - Country News - - MAN’S BEST FRIEND -

A Queens­land labour-hire com­pany and its man­ager have been pe­nalised a to­tal of more than $84 000 af­ter flout­ing record­keep­ing and pay-slip laws re­lat­ing to vul­ner­a­ble for­eign work­ers, despite hav­ing pre­vi­ously been cau­tioned by the Fair Work Om­buds­man.

The penal­ties have been im­posed against HTA Farm­ings Pty Ltd and com­pany man­ager Tuan Anh Le in the Fed­eral Cir­cuit Court, fol­low­ing le­gal ac­tion by the Fair Work Om­buds­man.

HTA Farm­ings has been pe­nalised $70 550 and Mr Le has been pe­nalised an ad­di­tional $14 110.

The Fair Work Om­buds­man at­tempted to con­duct a full au­dit of HTA Farm­ings in 2015 as part of its na­tional Har­vest Trail In­quiry into ex­ploita­tion of over­seas work­ers on Aus­tralian farms.

How­ever, a lack of ba­sic records of hours worked by em­ploy­ees meant that the Fair Work Om­buds­man was only able to cal­cu­late the en­ti­tle­ments of six out of 265 em­ploy­ees HTA Farm­ings had sup­plied to pick and pack straw­ber­ries at a Ca­bool­ture straw­berry farm.

It was de­ter­mined that the six em­ploy­ees were un­der­paid a to­tal of $316 over lim­ited pe­ri­ods for which records were avail­able.

The em­ployer’s fail­ure to com­ply with their law­ful record keep­ing obli­ga­tions pre­vented the FWO from de­ter­min­ing whether the re­main­ing 259 em­ploy­ees were paid their law­ful en­ti­tle­ments.

Many of the em­ploy­ees were over­seas work­ers from Asian coun­tries and were in Aus­tralia on 417 work­ing hol­i­day visas at the time.

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