In 2012, Farok Shaik offered a migrant couple full-time employment and wages to work at the Indian restaurants he managed. He also promised to sponsor their visa applications. However, the married couple were forced to work long hours; live in a storeroom above the restaurant; threatened with withdrawal of visa sponsorship and violence; and were severely underpaid. The civil case concerning underpayment of wages was heard in the Federal Circuit Court in 2016 and the criminal case relating to the forced labour offence was decided by the County Court of Victoria in 2020.

In September 2016, the Federal Circuit Court found that Shaik had breached the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and underpaid the couple a total of $85,844 between 2012 and 2013. Shaik was also fined $50,872.50 for contravening the Act. He has paid approximately half, to date. This penalty arose out of an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman after the couple complained in 2014. Both husband and wife had been reluctant to complain as they relied on Shaik for support of their migration visa applications. When requesting wages or information about her visa, Shaik threatened the wife with physical abuse, deportation and even threatened to kill her. The couple borrowed money from friends and family and worked other jobs to survive. Shaik also failed to inform the couple about the refusal of the wife’s application for permanent residency, which affected her ability to respond. The Court found Shaik had acted in a calculated manner and that his actions were deceitful and improper.

In 2019, Shaik pleaded guilty to causing a person to remain in forced labour, representing a breach of s 270.6 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and carries a maximum prison sentence of nine years. The Court found that Shaik had provided false payslips to the wife who felt unable to leave her job due to intimidation and concern for her visa sponsorship. She was not paid any wages during the period of employment.

On 22 June 2020, the County Court of Victoria gave Shaik an 18-month prison term. The Court also found that Shaik’s actions were deliberate but made concessions for the seven-year delay in his case and his guilty plea. Instead of serving the prison term, Shaik entered into a court-enforced undertaking of good behaviour for three years.

Case Citation

DPP v Shaik [2020] VCC 909

Fair Work Ombudsman v Shaik [2016] FCCA 2345