Sydney salon backpays workers $25,000

A Sydney hair and beauty salon operator has backpaid casual workers more than $25,000 following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Ohmed, which operates the OKS Hair and Beauty Salon in Lidcombe, underpaid seven workers a total of $25,045 between March 2016 to May 2017.

The business escaped legal action by fully co-operating with the FWO under the terms of an Enforceable Undertaking which required it to back pay the workers, overhaul its workplace practices and donate $5000 to the Marrickville Legal Centre.

The salon was investigated after the FWO received a request for assistance from a Korean national employed in the salon. The woman, who was in Australia on a working holiday visa, lodged the request after becoming aware that she was being underpaid.

The Ombudsman investigated and found that the worker and six other workers at the salon had been underpaid the minimum rates for ordinary hours and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work they were entitled to under the Hair and Beauty Award.

In addition Ohmed had failed to issue pay slips to the workers and failed to pay superannuation. The business had also paid some of the workers cash-in-hand.

The workers were all employed as casual salon assistants, with tasks including greeting customers, cleaning and providing assistance to the salon’s hairdressers and beauty therapists.

The FWO’s Enforceable Undertaking imposes “significant obligations” on Ohmed and its director Hyung Jin Oh, including a requirement for the company to engage, at its own expense, an external auditor to conduct three audits of all employees’ pay and conditions over the next two years.

The EU also requires the company to ensure all staff with responsibility for human resources, recruitment or payroll functions undertake workplace relations training.

The company must also send letters of apology to the affected workers and display a notice regarding the EU in the workplace and on its Facebook page.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said an EU was an appropriate outcome, given the full cooperation of the employer and the rectification of back-payments.

“This EU puts in place robust measures to ensure that Mr Oh and Ohmed Pty Ltd take real steps to improve their workplace practices and ensure sustained compliance with workplace laws going forward. This will make a real difference to workers.”

Hannah said the Fair Work Ombudsman takes matters involving vulnerable workers, such as visa-holders or workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, particularly seriously.

“The idea that it’s OK to pay migrants and visa holders a ‘going rate’ that undercuts the lawful minimum wage rates that apply in Australia is a myth,” she said.

“All workers in Australia have the same entitlements, regardless of their citizenship, ethnicity or cultural and linguistic background.”

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