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Painting business fined $15,000

The operator of a Darwin painting business has been fined $15,000 for deliberately exploiting four young overseas workers and refusing to back-pay them thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

The Federal Circuit Court has imposed the penalty against Scott Aeron Davenport, whose business trades as Scott's Painting Service.

It is the second time this month that the Court has fined a Darwin business for exploiting overseas workers in Australia on 417 working holiday visas.

The Fair Work Ombudsman took legal action against Davenport for underpaying four French backpackers a total of $5940.

Aged between 21 and 25, they performed painting and labouring duties at a local college in December, 2013 and January, 2014.

Davenport paid three of the workers just $450 for 13 days' work, which equated to hourly rates of between $4.62 and $4.71.

A fourth worker was paid $300 for five days' work - an effective hourly rate of $11.54.

Under the Building and Construction General On-Site Award, the workers were entitled to more than $22 an hour for normal hours and over $38 an hour for weekend work. 

Individual underpayments ranged from $451 to $1889.

Employers risk penalties of up to $54,000 for each breach of the Fair Work Act 2009.

Most businesses - including small businesses - are now covered by the national Fair Work system created by the Fair Work Act 2009.

Fair work Inspectors appointed by the Fair Work Ombudsman have the power to enter a workplace at any time during working hours to inspect records and ensure compliance: Read more about fines and penalties: Fair Work Act 2009

HR Managers, Directors and people responsible for payroll and administration functions also risk personal fines under Section 550 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

Need help with compliance? Workforce Guardian HR Solutions