Chinese Language School In Court

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operator of a weekend community Chinese language school in Melbourne.

Facing court are Western Chinese Language School Incorporated, which operates out of a site in Braybrook, and former chairperson of the incorporated association’s school council, Baoquan Chen.

The regulator investigated after receiving requests for assistance from workers who were employed by the school as Chinese language teachers for various periods between October 2016 and June 2021.

The investigation related to four part-time workers, with two of the workers moving to casual employment for the last five months of their employment.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to the company in September 2022 after forming a belief the workers were underpaid Saturday and public holiday penalties and were not paid accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements at the end of their employment.

These entitlements were allegedly owed under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 and the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Western Chinese Language School, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the workers’ entitlements. It is alleged Mr Chen was involved in the contravention.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” Mr Campbell said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”

The FWO is seeking penalties in court. For the alleged failure to comply with the Compliance Notice, Western Chinese Language School faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Chen faces a penalty of up to $6,660.

The regulator is also seeking a court order requiring the school to rectify the alleged underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation. A hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 3 May 2024.

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