By Nicholas Hartman
The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking a Western Australian labour hire company to court for allegedly failing to pay back $20,000 in unpaid wages to fruit packers.
News.com.au reports that the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has taken the labour hire company, as well as its chief executive, to the Federal Circuit Court.
The FWO alleges that two employees, who were working holiday visitors from Taiwan, were underpaid between $300 and and $3,500 for work performed over a 10-month period in 2017.
The labour hire company has previously been issued with a compliance notice by the FWO, requiring it to pay just over $20,000 to 11 workers who were reportedly paid unlawfully low rates for sorting and packing fruit.
“Employers must comply with compliance notices unless they decide to challenge a notice in court,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman is cracking down on the alleged underpayment of vulnerable workers in the horticulture sector.
“We will continue to audit businesses suspected of unpaying workers and utilise our full suite of enforcement tools to hold employers to account.”
The court case is set to take place in September. It is believed that the FWO is seeking penalties and a court order requiring the company to pay the underpaid wages in full.
The maximum penalties for failing to comply with a compliance notice are $6,300 for an individual and $31,500 for a corporation.
A compliance notice is a written notice issued by the FWO that legally requires businesses to rectify breaches of the Fair Work Act.
According to the FWO site, “failure to comply with a compliance notice results in the FWO commencing legal proceedings”.
Employsure’s Commercial Director Steven Hoyle warns business of the high cost of non-compliance with regards to the Fair Work Act.
“For me and my team, one of the hardest sells is convincing our clients of the cost of compliance, Hoyle says. “No one wants to part with their money.”
“But, as I see it, we’re saving them money. If you are a non-compliant business, the Fair Work Ombudsman will eventually come knocking on your door.
“You can’t not think it won’t happen to you. Several national and multi-national companies have been caught in the Fair Work web in recent years.
“When you do get caught, and found non-compliant with the complex maze of Fair Work laws and regulations, it is not pretty. And stats back it up: non-compliance costs businesses an average 1.23 times what they “saved” from not paying the proper wages.”