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Married couple ‘paid nothing’

An Indian couple who were forced to travel hours each week between three restaurants in rural Victoria were paid nothing for a year, despite being promised $1600-a-week, the workplace regulator has claimed.

Businessman Farok Shaik only fed and housed the husband and wife, paying them nothing of the $85,844 they were owed between August 2012 and October 2013, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleged.

He also “knowingly” gave fraudulent pay slips to a Fair Work inspector who was investigating the matter, the regulator said.

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Mr Shaik owned and operated Indian Tandoori restaurants at Yarrawonga, Beechworth and Bendigo before his company was placed into liquidation late last year.

Without cash payments, the couple worked as cleaners in their spare time to make an income.

Ombudsman Natalie James said the workers were reluctant to complain about the lack of payment because they were reliant on Mr Shaik’s support for their visa applications.

The couple were on bridging visas while they awaited the outcome of the application, but finally made a complaint when told their visas would not be approved.

“Employees are entitled to be paid lawful minimum wages for work they perform and deductions from wages are lawful only when they are principally for the benefit of an employee and there is a written agreement in place,” Ms James said.

A directions hearing is scheduled for the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on June 15.

Mr Shaik faces maximum penalties of up to $10,200 for each offence.

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