Court action for alleged cashback arrangement
6 September 2021
The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operator of a Queensland transport business, alleging he implemented an unlawful cashback arrangement involving JobKeeper payments.
Facing court is Khan Andrew Buchanan, a sole trader who operates a business trading as RiverCity Bus Service, a school and charter bus business servicing passengers in and around the Brisbane and Logan areas.
Fair Work Inspectors investigated after a worker that Mr Buchanan had employed on a casual basis as a bus driver, between 2017 and 2020, lodged a request for assistance.
For the period between March and September 2020, Mr Buchanan received fortnightly $1500 JobKeeper payments from the Commonwealth Government for the driver and transferred these payments in full to the driver’s bank account.
The driver’s usual wages each fortnight were never more than the $1500 JobKeeper payments.
It is alleged Mr Buchanan breached the Fair Work Act by requiring the driver to enter into a cashback arrangement in which the driver was required to pay each week to Mr Buchanan an amount that equated approximately to the difference between the net JobKeeper payment he received into his bank account and his wages received for hours worked in the previous week.
It is alleged that in total, Mr Buchanan unlawfully required the driver to repay him a total of $5805 in JobKeeper payments.
It is alleged that Mr Buchanan also committed a further breach of the Fair Work Act on one occasion, in September 2020, when he received a $1500 JobKeeper payment from the Commonwealth Government but paid the driver only $1035.60 of the payment.
Mr Buchanan rectified the alleged underpayments in full earlier this year after being contacted by Fair Work Inspectors, back-paying the employee a total of $6270.40.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator was prepared to take action to uphold the integrity of government programs.
“Cashback allegations are treated particularly seriously by the Fair Work Ombudsman and we will not tolerate any employers unlawfully requiring workers to pay back any of their wages or entitlements.”
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free assistance,” Ms Parker said.
The FWO is seeking court-imposed penalties against Mr Buchanan. He faces maximum penalties of up to $13,320 per contravention for two alleged contraventions of the Fair Work Act.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Brisbane on
20 September 2021.
Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.
Anonymous reports can be made in English and 16 other languages at www.fairwork.gov.au/tipoff.
Follow the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au or find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/fairwork.gov.au .
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Matthew Raggatt, Assistant Director - Media
Mobile:0466 470 507
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