Lu’s Healthcare, which operates massage shops in Melbourne, has strict rules on the way staff should behave and there is “serious punishment” for those who transgress.
Therapists showing a “lack of passion or good hospitality” get hit with a fine of $50.
“Noise making and playing around” or sleeping or lying on massage tables is $20.
And the punishment for “resistance to hard work” is being “put back into apprenticeship again”.
Being late for work — fines of up to $100.
And talking on the phone during a massage is grounds for dismissal.
Unfortunately for Lu’s Healthcare, two Chinese staff complained about being underpaid and the Fair Work Ombudsman investigated.
In the Federal Court, Lu’s Healthcare Pty Ltd was penalised $112,860 and director Kun Wang a further $5940.
A male therapist in his 20s was short-changed $33,000 and a 19-year-old female therapist with limited English was underpaid $21,000. They have now been reimbursed.
They were each paid a percentage of each massage they performed.
However, they should have been paid the minimum wage under the Health Professionals and Support Services Award.
The workers also had money unlawfully deducted from their wages.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James believes the business model at Lu’s Healthcare is relatively common across massage businesses.
“Minimum wage rates apply to everyone — including visa-holders — and they are not negotiable,” she says.