Geelong utility business faces court

27 August 2021

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operator of a business in Geelong, Victoria, that specialises in locating underground cables.

Facing court is Sofworks Pty Ltd, which operates a business trading as Geelong Cable Location.

The regulator began an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from a worker who was employed at the company as an Underground Utility Detection Technician on a full-time basis between October 2017 and February 2021.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Sofworks in April 2021 after forming a belief the worker had not been paid for 146 hours of accrued but untaken annual leave on termination of his employment, owed under the National Employment Standards.

The FWO alleges the company, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and take business operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

"Where employers do not comply with our requests, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” Ms Parker said.

The FWO is seeking penalties. Sofworks faces a maximum penalty of up to $33,300 for failing to comply with the Compliance Notice.

The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, including calculating and rectifying underpayments in full to the former employee, plus interest and superannuation.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 15 September 2021.

Employers and employees can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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Media inquiries:

Claire Low, Senior Media Adviser
Mobile: 0418 825 074

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