Couple Charged in Australia for Underpaying 4 Filipino Workers

An Australian court has charged a couple for allegedly shortchanging four Filipino workers of about A$261,300.

According the Federal Circuit Court, two of the workers were employed at motels located in Queanbeyan in New South Wales, Halls Gap in Victoria, and Taree in north of Newcastle, between November 2012 and January 2015, in a report by ABC News.

The other two workers were employed at Halls Gap motel between February 2013 and April 2014.

The Filipinos were recruited by husband-and-wife owners Michael and Rowena Parkes to work in Australia on 457 skilled worker visas, as alleged by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

According to the ABC News report, all four employees allegedly worked full-time, including overtime duties such as reception, cleaning, cooking, maintenance and gardening.

The female employee who worked at the Queanbeyan motel was reportedly underpaid by more than A$109,500 as a result of being paid little or nothing more than 3,000 hours of overtime work. Her partner was also allegedly underpaid by more than A$72,900.

The female employee was reportedly threatened with dismissal after she spoke to a Fair Work inspector.

It is also alleged only the woman from the second couple of Filipino workers was paid a wage on the basis they were employed as a couple.

The male employee was allegedly paid nothing at all, despite being entitled to more than $61,500 during the course of his employment.

Mr and Mrs Parkes, the owners of the motels and employers of the Filipinos face penalties of up to A$10,200 per breach of law, while their company, SW Motel Management Services Pty Ltd, is facing penalties of up to A$51,000 per contravention.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking court orders for the company to back-pay the four employees in full.

The matter is due back in the Federal Circuit Court later this week.

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