A Melbourne car wash and its director have been fined more than $200,000 for underpaying five staff a total of $4511.
Reiquin, which runs the Royal Melbourne Car Wash at Camberwell, has been fined $184,800 and the company’s owner and sole director Richard Timothy Reid, of Malvern, a further $23,100.
The Reiquin penalty was issued in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday after the company admitted underpaying five casual workers in 2006.
More than 20 former employees of the Royal Melbourne Car Wash have lodged underpayment complaints with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Magistrate Kate Hawkins said she was satisfied the underpayment of the five workers was “entirely deliberate” and noted that neither the company nor Reid took any corrective action “until they were dragged to the door of the court”.
She said the law should “mark its disapproval of the conduct in question and set a penalty which serves as a warning to others”.
The Fair Work Ombudsman told the court that four of the employees were paid nothing for the several shifts they worked.
This included an 18-year-old who was employed to wash, clean and detail cars for 10 shifts but was not paid any of the $851 in wages he was entitled to. Another 20-year-old was paid nothing for working six shifts over two weeks. He should have been paid $781.
Reiquin and Reid refused to reimburse the five workers the money owed for more than two years. It was not until the matter went to court in February that the employees were reimbursed.
Fair Work Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell said that a particular obnoxious aspect of this case was the refusal to pay staff for work they had actually performed.
“This is completely unacceptable and I want to make it abundantly clear that want-to-be slave merchants will be rooted out and prosecuted,” he said.
“There is no excuse for underpaying your staff, and those who want to try it on should remember that there is a tough and vigilant watchdog on the beat.”