Media release

22 November 2006

Duress Not On Says OWS: Tassie Inn Taken to Court

The Office of Workplace Services (OWS) has initiated litigation proceedings against Mornington Inn Pty Ltd trading as The Mornington Inn, in Tasmania.

The OWS has filed an application in the Hobart registry of the Federal Court seeking penalties and compensation relating to breaches of the Workplace Relations Act by The Mornington Inn, a Tasmanian employer.

Mornington Inn Pty Ltd commenced operations after purchasing the business in November 2005. In July 2006 the employer offered Australian Workplace Agreements to all staff.

It is alleged, that two employees experienced a drastic reduction in hours as a result of advising the employer that they did not wish to sign the agreement.

The OWS also alleges a third employee was threatened with a loss of shifts by the hotel manager on a number of occasions, this occurred and her hours were reinstated after she signed the AWA.

It is alleged, other employees at the hotel felt compelled to sign the agreement based on the examples made of the three employees.

OWS Director, Mr Nicholas Wilson explained that duress of employees was a matter the OWS took very seriously.

“The OWS has been active and committed to fulfilling its mandate of protecting Australian workplace rights and responsibilities,” said Mr Wilson.

“The application of duress against workers is one issue the OWS takes very seriously.

“The OWS is satisfied that in relation to these particular employees’ duress has been applied.

“Companies should be aware they are liable for a $33,000 fine for each breach of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the Act).

“Forcing workers to sign AWA’s or individual contracts, through inappropriate pressure, is one such breach, of the Act.

“The central role of the OWS is to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers under the Act are protected, understood and enforced,” Mr Wilson said.

Employers and employees who would like more information on their rights and obligations should contact the Workplace Infoline on 1300 363 264.

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Page last updated: 22 Nov 2006