$320K in penalties for underpaying IGA workers

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has secured $320,263 in penalties in court for the underpayment of six IGA workers.

The court found the operator to have deliberately underpaid six workers at two IGA supermarkets in Melbourne – despite having been put on notice to comply.

Said “Sam” Haddad is the operator and majority owner of the Fairfield IGA supermarket. He was also the majority owner and operator of the Altona IGA supermarket. He has been penalised $53,377 in the federal circuit court.

In addition, two companies of which Mr Haddad is a shareholder and director – Deja Vu Elite Security Pty Ltd and Hadya Nominees Pty Ltd – have been penalised $157,950 and $108,936, respectively.

The court imposed the penalties after Mr Haddad and the companies admitted to underpaying six employees at the Fairfield and Altona IGA supermarkets a total of $11,373 between November 2013 and November 2015. Three of the employees were aged between 19 and 23 at the time.

Young workers particularly vulnerable

FWO Sandra Parker said it was unacceptable that breaches occurred, especially as inspectors had already issued warnings.

“All employers have a clear obligation under Australia’s workplace laws to pay correct wages and entitlements, and rectify any underpayment of their employees,” she said. “If companies do not improve compliance with workplace laws, we will take court action to enforce the law.

“The underpayment of young workers is particularly serious, as they can be unaware of their workplace rights or reluctant to complain. The court’s significant financial penalties serve as a warning for all businesses who fail to act on our advice.”

Judge Heather Riley found that the underpayments were deliberate. She said there was “considerable need in this case for both general and specific deterrence”.

She added: “It seems to me that the conduct of the respondents in this case was egregious. It was deliberate. There has been no apology to the employees affected by the respondents’ conduct.”

The court also ordered Deja Vu Elite Security Pty Ltd to pay $11,616.90 in legal costs to the FWO. Finally, it ordered Hadya Nominees to make outstanding superannuation contributions for two workers.

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