Second time in court for employment-law-flouting plumber

By Portner Press on November 30th, 2018
  1. Industrial Instruments
  2. Fair Work Act


A Victorian business operator who was hit with fines totalling $121,500 late last year is to face court again this year.

In the first case in December last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) found that Michael Patrick Pulis and his company, Pulis Professional Plumbing, had underpaid an employee nearly $27,000 in about a three-month period in 2014.

The employee was paid a trainee apprentice rate of $12.18 an hour, but as he was not formally signed up as an apprentice, he was entitled to $37.08 hourly and up to double that for overtime, in addition to meal and travel allowances and leave and termination payments.

Mr Pulis received a personal fine of $21,500 and his company a further $100,000.

Now he is to face court again, for the same employment law breaches.

This time he has allegedly underpaid another young employee a total of $3,929, in a six-week period between July and September 2017.

The FWO alleges that Mr Pulis has falsified employment records, failed to formally sign up the employee to an apprenticeship, underpaid his minimum hourly rates, overtime pay, allowances and leave entitlements, and has not contributed superannuation on his behalf.

Sandra Parker of the FWO said “Under workplace laws, apprentice rates can be paid only when an employer has executed a written apprenticeship agreement with the relevant employee and lodged the agreement with the relevant authority in their state”.

“Any employer who fails to comply with their workplace obligations may face legal action and significant financial penalties. When deciding which matters to take to court, the Fair Work Ombudsman considers allegations involving repeat non-compliance and young workers particularly seriously,” she said.

Mr Pulis faces personal penalties of up to $12,600 per breach and his company faces penalties of up to $63,000 per breach. The FWO is also seeking a court order for Mr Pulis to pay back the employee’s allegedly outstanding superannuation entitlements.

The case will be heard at the Melbourne Federal Circuit Court on 4 December this year.

Do you know your legal obligations to apprentices?

Learn more in chapter S3 Special Category Employees in the Employment Law Practical Handbook.

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