A Perth cleaner has been hit with a near-record $306,000 fine for failing to pay young overseas workers in an industry fast gaining a reputation for underpayment.
The case against Perth man Blagojce Djoneski and his company Goldfinger Facility Management pursued by the Fair Work Ombudsman concerned housekeepers at the Melbourne Hotel in 2014. Four cleaners on working holiday visas – three from South Korea and one from the UK –were each paid nothing despite working between two and four weeks at the hotel.
Two other employees of Goldfinger, an Indian national and an Australian, were also underpaid.
In his judgment, Federal Court Judge Antoni Lucev said the contraventions were serious and that the underpayment 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.
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.
“The Court also observes that it is now almost notorious that there are significant pockets of non-compliance in relation to the payment of wages and entitlements, either at all or correctly, in the commercial cleaning industry,” Judge Lucev said in his judgment.
Mr Djoneski has been penalised $51,000 and his company Goldfinger Facility Management Pty Ltd a further $255,000, in the Federal Circuit Court. In addition, the company is to rectify $26,627 in underpayments to the six workers.