Brisbane cleaning operator faces court for allegedly underpaying overseas workers

Bijal Girish Sheth faces personally paying back nearly $60,000, as well as large penalites for each of the four contraventions.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced action against Bijal Girish Sheth, operator of Brisbane’s Brisclean cleaning service, in federal court for allegedly underpaying four overseas workers and ‘breaching sham contracting laws,’ reported an agency press release.

Mr Sheth and his company ‘allegedly underpaid the four employees a total of $59,878 for work they performed between August 2012 and December 2014,’ continued the release.

Mr Sheth also ‘allegedly breached sham contracting laws by deliberately misclassifying the employees as contractors.

‘He allegedly paid the workers low, flat rates and did not pay them at all for some work performed.

‘This allegedly resulted in underpayment of their minimum hourly rates, annual leave entitlements, part-time and shift loadings and penalty rates for weekend public holiday and overtime work.’

In addition, ‘Mr Sheth allegedly contravened record-keeping and pay-slip obligations and failed to comply with three notices to produce employment records issued by Fair Work inspectors.’

FWO’s Natalie James said that it was Mr Sheth’s ‘failure to engage with the Fair Work Ombudsman and comply with multiple requests to assist the agency’s investigation was a factor in deciding to litigate.’

The FWO is currently ‘seeking civil penalties against Mr Sheth and a court order for him to personally back-pay the workers’ in full. This is due to the fact Brisclean was placed into administration late last year – a move that restricted the FWO from pursuing legal action against the company.

Mr Sheth also ‘faces maximum penalties of up to $10,200 per contravention.’

This is not the first underpayment case the FWO has tackled in 2016; read our coverage of the action against a Whyalla-based company here and against ISS in Melbourne here.

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