$6000 penalty for $629 underpayment

5 March 2010

A young Adelaide businessman and his former café business have been fined a total of $6000 for underpaying a worker $629.

The Federal Magistrates Court in Adelaide imposed the penalty in October, 2009, following a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Falanga Enterprises Pty Ltd, which traded as The Highgate Mall Café on Fullarton Road before going into liquidation in 2007, was fined $5000 and the company’s sole director, Anthony Paul Falanga, 27, who ran the cafe, a further $1000.

Federal Magistrate Denys Simpson imposed the fines after admissions that a casual cleaner/shop assistant was underpaid $629.
FM Simpson noted that Falanga had been “genuinely unaware” he was underpaying the worker and was now contrite.

But he added: “It is necessary, however, for all people who embark on a career in business, including the young and inexperienced such as (Falanga) in this case, to realise that they must take all appropriate steps to become properly informed about their legal obligations to their employees.”

The employee was underpaid the minimum hourly rate and the minimum shift pay when she worked for at the café for just under 12 weeks in 2006.

After the worker lodged a complaint, the Fair Work Ombudsman made several requests for the business to voluntarily back-pay her before launching legal action in November, 2007, seeking fines and a Court Order for back-payment.

Falanga back-paid the worker after the Agency initiated legal action.
Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the Agency takes its role of protecting workers’ rights seriously and will not hesitate to pursue companies and individual directors who underpay employees and refuse to meet their lawful obligations.

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.fwo.gov.au. For translations call 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484

Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924

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