The operators of a number of Save and Deliver pharmacies – including one at Shellharbour – have been fined after underpaying two employees.
Sydney men Nader Bastawrose, Amgad Samaan and Ashraf Youssef have each been penalised $15,000 in the Federal Circuit Court after an investigation and legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
A pharmacy assistant at the Shellharbour store received $5296 in back-pay after the Fair Work investigation, which also found pay slip and record-keeping laws were contravened.
Meantime, a migrant employee who worked at the Liverpool and Mt Druitt pharmacies received $62,010 after it was found he was underpaid the equivalent of 93 weeks wages over four years.
The Egyptian employee delivered medication to customers’ homes, transferred supplies between Save and Deliver pharmacies in Liverpool and Mt Druitt, and assisted with various duties in the Mt Druitt pharmacy between September 2009 and June 2013.
He was paid flat hourly rates of between $12 and $14, but was entitled to receive between $16 and $43, depending on his shifts.
In his judgment, Judge Robert Cameron said the case involved significant underpayment of low-paid, vulnerable workers.
The Fair Work Ombudsman had previously put Bastawrose, Samaan and Youssef on notice to pay minimum wage rates after investigating three prior underpayment allegations from pharmacy workers.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah says cases in which business operators continued to underpay workers even after being put on notice were treated extremely seriously.
“A small number of unscrupulous employers still need to get the message that it is unlawful to pay overseas and migrant workers a ‘going rate’ that undercuts lawful minimum rates,” she said.
“Cases such as this one should drive home the point to employers that lawful minimum rates apply to all employees in Australia and are not negotiable.”