Boss pocketed migrant employee's $12k parental leave pay

The woman asked her employer about her parental leave payment multiple times. Source: Getty Images

NSW petrol station manager Kulpreet Singh has been fined after trying to profit from his employee's benefits.

A NSW man who attempted to pocket his employee’s government-funded parental leave pay has been ordered to pay $118,440 following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

Kulpreet Singh was the manager of the United Petroleum roadhouse at Marrangaroo, in NSW's central west, and director of Noorpreet Pty Ltd.

Indian-origin employer fined for pocketing worker's parental leave

He had employed the Indian woman as a chef on a 487 skilled regional employer nomination visa. She is now an Australian citizen.

In April 2015 when the 29-year-old had a child, the Department of Human Services (DHS) deposited $11,538 to her employer’s company for it to then be transferred to the employee.

The United Petroleum roadhouse at Marrangaroo.
The United Petroleum roadhouse at Marrangaroo.
Google Maps

FWO Natalie James said the attempt by Mr Singh to take advantage of a vulnerable employee was truly unacceptable.

“New parents have enough on their minds without having to chase recalcitrant employers over their taxpayer-funded paid parental leave,” she said.

“Any employer thinking they can cover up breaches of work laws by creating false records, or lying to Fair Work inspectors – beware.”

The woman was entitled to the funds under the Commonwealth’s Paid Parental Leave initiative, and when she did not receive the money she contacted the DHS.

An investigation by the FWO found Mr Singh had concocted fake documentation, which purported to show he had paid the amount in full to the woman’s husband, just one month after she had the child.

He eventually did pay the amount in full, more than five months after the deadline.

Mr Singh admitted in court to committing a number of violations, including a contravention of the Paid Parental Leave Act, as well as misleading bookkeeping, and has been fined $19,720, while his company Noorpreet Pty Ltd will need to pay a further $100,000.

Judge Nick Nicholls said some of Mr Singh’s reasons for failing to make the payment were “absurd”.

“Mr Singh was, to be blunt, well and truly caught out by the FWO, perpetrating a deliberate falsehood in relation to false payment record,” he said.

Noorpreet had its ABN cancelled in 2016, and the company is no longer operational, but Judge Nicholls said the penalty needed to “service as a general deterrent to others in the hospitality industry”.

Late last year, tougher consequences for employers who fail to keep accurate employee records were implemented, doubling the penalty for companies and individuals who knowingly create false documentation.

The case marked the first time the FWO had taken legal action against an employer who had knowingly failed to transfer parental leave funds to an employee.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can contact the FWO on 13 13 94.

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