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Endota Spa Sydney admits to $66,000 in wage theft from visa holders

The shop front of Endota Spa Chatswood, one of the six Sydney centres where workers had their pay unlawfully deducted. (Source: Endota Spa)
The shop front of Endota Spa Chatswood, one of the six Sydney centres where workers had their pay unlawfully deducted. (Source: Endota Spa)

The Sydney operator of one of Australia’s largest day spa chains has owned up to stealing wages from 13 staff across nearly four years.

Chris Barbour, who is the director of six Endota Spa Sydney centres, admitted to breaching workplace laws and has had to back-pay staff $65,939.87.

Endota Spa Sydney is a franchisee of Endota (No 1) Pty Ltd (better known as Endota Spa), which claims to be “the largest day spa in Australia” with over 100 locations.

Inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman found that Endota Spa Sydney unlawfully deducted pay from 13 workers on 457 visas every fortnight between May 2014 and February 2018, which came to $58,025 in total.

Each fortnight, Barbour stole $250 from workers’ pay and stopped after the costs to cover their visa sponsorship process had been met, which cost up to $7,000 for each individual worker.

This sum was withheld from workers, and Barbour promised they’d see the money after they completed a specified period of employment with Endota Spa Sydney.

Fair Work also uncovered a further $7,914.87 in unpaid penalty rates and annual leave entitlements.

The employees were foreign nationals from a number of countries such as Britain, Ireland, Poland, and Japan.

Endota Spa Sydney's Chatswood centre. (Source: Endota Spa)
Endota Spa Sydney's Chatswood centre. (Source: Endota Spa)

Fair Work investigated Endota Spa Sydney after two 457 visa holders raised the alarm with the Ombudsman, alleging that the company was making deductions from their pay.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said deducting pay from workers’ salary was only permissible in certain circumstances and had to be for the benefit of the worker.

“Businesses can’t use deductions from workers’ salaries as a bargaining chip to keep them employed in the business,” she said.

Fair Work will be “keep[ing] a close eye” on the conduct of Endota Spa and Barbour in the future, she added, and said the back-payment should serve as a warning to other employers that underpaid migrant workers or made unlawful deductions.

More audits to come

Endota Spa Sydney has committed to auditing its six NSW spa centres in 2019-2020 to ensure workers are receiving their correct entitlements.

Endota Spa Sydney locations are in Martin Place, Crows Nest, Paddington, Rozelle, Chatswood, and within the major hotel chain Four Seasons Sydney.

All managers will also be required to complete workplace relations training, and the company will make a $10,000 “contrition payment” to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Endota Spa Sydney’s entity name is Sea One North Pty Ltd, but trades as Endota Spa Sydney.

Yahoo Finance has contacted Endota Spa for comment.

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