THE OWNER of a fast food restaurant in West Limerick underpaid his staff, forged employee documents and fired one worker after he asked for time off, a local court has heard.
Abdul Wadood, proprietor of Fry Macs takeaway, Main Street, Ballingarry has been convicted of a number of breaches of employment law and has been ordered to pay over â‚¬16,000 in back pay to one ex-employee who he underpaid over an 18 month period.
Mr Wadood failed to appear at Newcastle West court this Tuesday, where he was found guilty of a number of charges brought against him by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
The court heard that the prosecution followed a random inspection of the fast food outlet in 2012, when it was discovered that Mr Wadood was employing workers from India and Pakistan who were only in Ireland on student visas, which prohibit them from working for more than 20 hours per week.
George McLoughlin, labour inspector with the National Employment Rights Authority, said that after uncovering â€œa number of issuesâ€ during his first inspection, he requested that Mr Wadood produce a number of required documents, such as employee payslips, timesheets, contracts, holiday records and other information. â€œHe didnâ€™t have the necessary recordsâ€, Mr McLoughlin said, though Mr Wadood did later provide some signed documents covering the weeks after the inspection. It later emerged that these documents had been forged.
Mr McLoughlin said that as part of his follow up queries to his first inspection he sent general questionnaires to all Mr Wadoodâ€™s staff, but the only reply was from Rajinder Singh, the only one of Mr Wadoodâ€™s employees who held a full work permit.
A short time later, Mr McLoughlin said that the authority received a complaint from Mr Singh that he had been fired after asking Mr Wadood for holidays he was legally entitled to. The court heard that Mr Singh â€œwas fobbed offâ€ by Mr Wadood when he first sought some time off, and after insisting on the matter Mr Singh â€œwas sackedâ€.
The court heard that it was later discovered that the payslips, timesheets and employee contract information that Mr Wadood furnished to the authority after the initial inspection had been forged.
Mr McLoughlin said that his investigations also found that while Mr Singh had been paid the minimum weekly wage during the 18 months that he worked for Mr Wadood, he often had to work â€œin excess of 50 hoursâ€ per week, which meant that he received less than minimum wage in real terms.
Mr McLoughlin said that over his period of employment, Mr Singh had been underpaid by a total of â‚¬16,754.
Solicitor Will Leahy, prosecuting on behalf of the department, said that Mr Wadood had been charged with one offence each under the organisation of working time and payment of wages acts, as well as for two breaches of the minimum wage act. The maximum penalty for each of the four offences is a fine of â‚¬2,500.
Mr Wadood did not appear in court, and did not have a solicitor to represent him.
Judge Mary Larkin ordered that Mr Wadood pay the full sum of â‚¬16,754 in owed wages to Mr Singh, and also fined him a total of â‚¬9,000 for the four breaches of employment law.
He has been given three months to pay the fines, or he will have to spend 10 days in prison.