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Sydney CEO allegedly underpays nanny by $155,000, taken to court by the FWO

(Source: Getty, Metro Award Group)

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is taking property development company CEO Kit Antony Lam to the Federal Court for allegedly underpaying a Filipino nanny by up to $155,178.

FWO is claiming that Lam, who is the head of Sydney CBD-based property development company Metro Award Group, and his wife Ming Wei (Tiffanie) Tong breached Australian workplace laws by requesting the nanny work between 88 and 106 hours every week between May 2016 and May 2017.

The nanny, who was 26 years old when she began working for Lam, was covered by the Miscellaneous Award yet was underpaid base rates and penalty rates for early morning and night hours, overtime and public holiday, the FWO is alleging.

In the 12 months that she was working for the Lams, the nanny lived with the couple and their children in Sydney’s CBD, where she was paid 40,000 Philippine pesos (A$1,117) per month into her Philippines-based bank account.

For the 12 months of work, she was only paid the equivalent of $12,574, which equates to $280 a week or $2.33 per hour when spread out across all the alleged hours worked, the FWO statement said.

But under the Miscellaneous Award, the employee is entitled to an hourly rate of between $17.29 and $18.91 per hour, and up to $37.82 for overtime hours.

This equates to an underpayment of $155,178.

Should the court decide the worker was not covered by the Miscellaneous Award, she should have been covered by the national minimum wage, which would have been $17.29 and $17.70 leading to a total underpayment sum of $85,834.

Fair Work inspectors came knocking on Lam’s door after the then-Department of Immigration and Border Protection (now the Department of Home Affairs) received an anonymous tip-off about the worker’s conditions.

The FWO is seeking orders for Lam to not only make the full back-payment, but to also pay interest and impose penalties.

The Case Management Hearing is set for 29 October 2019.

Do you think you’re being underpaid?

For visa holders who are concerned about speaking up and asking for help for fear of their visa being cancelled, the FWO has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs.

“Any workers with concerns about their pay, hours of work or entitlements should contact us.”

Make an anonymous report to the Fair Work Ombudsman through their website, or call their Infoline at 13 13 94 for free advice about rights and obligations in the workplace.

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