A women’s health clinic is facing court after allegedly withholding Government-funded parental leave payments from a worker.
The clinic also allegedly underpaid the employee annual leave entitlements and loadings.
Health clinic allegedly withheld parental leave payments
Facing the Federal Circuit Court is The Pagoda Tree (Vic) Pty Ltd, which operates The Pagoda Tree clinic in Melbourne.
Also facing court is the company’s sole director and owner, Natalie Kringoudis.
The affected employee, a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, took parental leave in 2018 and subsequently gave birth.
She then successfully applied for the Commonwealth Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme.
As a result, Services Australia transferred $12,948 to The Pagoda Tree between December 2018 and January 2019.
The Paid Parental Leave Act required the business to transfer the funds to the employee in a series of instalments finishing in March 2019.
However, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleges that the clinic transferred less than half of the funds.
Services Australia referred the matter to Fair Work following a complaint from the new mother.
In addition to the withheld parenting leave funds, the clinic also allegedly underpaid the worker $10,296 in annual leave entitlements, casual loadings and Saturday loadings.
Fair Work protects Government-funded schemes
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said her agency will protect the integrity of Commonwealth Government-funded schemes designed to assist parents.
“Paid Parental Leave funds are for the direct benefit of parents, not employers, and we will act to ensure they are passed on in full as the law requires.
“All employee pay entitlements must be respected, and we will continue to take legal action in response to significant alleged contraventions.”
The Pagoda Tree allegedly paid the outstanding parental leave and underpayments after Fair Work commenced its investigation.
Despite this, the company faces penalties of up to $63,000 per contravention, while Kringoudis faces penalties of up to $12,600 per contravention.
The Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne has a directions hearing listed for 15 February 2021.
It is only the second time Fair Work has taken legal action against an employer for allegedly failing to transfer Paid Parental Leave funds to an employee.
“BOSS PENALISED $118,000 FOR STEALING WORKER’S PARENTAL LEAVE PAY”
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