Mildura employer faces court for allegedly underpaying worker $130,000

29 January 2010

A Red Cliffs man will face court for allegedly underpaying a local worker more than $130,000 over four years.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against Kenneth Chiswell in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in Melbourne.

Mr Chiswell operated a sole-trader aircraft refuelling business at Mildura Airport.

It is alleged Mr Chiswell underpaid one of his employees a total of $132,000 between January, 2005 and May, 2009.

The worker was employed on a casual basis to drive a truck and refuel aircraft at the airport.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims that on hundreds of occasions Mr Chiswell called the employee in for duty for only one hour of paid work.

However, the regulator alleges the employee should have received a minimum four hours’ payment per shift.

Mr Chiswell also allegedly underpaid the employee’s minimum hourly rate.

Court documents allege Mr Chiswell usually paid the employee - aged in his 40s - a flat hourly rate of $20 for shifts commencing before 6am and $15 for all others.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims the employee should have been paid up to $24 an hour on weekdays, up to $39 an hour for weekends and overtime and up to $59 an hour for public holidays.

The Agency alleges that the employee should have been paid a total of $210,132 between 2005 and 2009, compared with the actual $77,596 he received.

Fair Work inspectors discovered the alleged underpayment after investigating a complaint lodged by the employee.

Mr Chiswell reimbursed the worker $9500 after being contacted by inspectors, but it is alleged that $123,036 in back-payments remain outstanding.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the decision to prosecute was made because of the significant amount involved and the failure of the employer to fully rectify the matter.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Mr Chiswell has committed multiple breaches of workplace laws.

He faces a maximum potential penalty of $6600 per breach.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking a Court Order for Mr Chiswell to back-pay money allegedly still owing to his former employee.

The Fair Work Ombudsman promotes harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces. It also monitors compliance and investigates breaches of national workplace laws.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au. For translations call 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484
craig.bildstien@fwo.gov.au

 

Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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