Former Newcastle call centre owner fined over underpayment of 62 workers

29 October 2010

The sole owner-manager of a former Newcastle call centre has been fined $5940 over the underpayment of 62 telemarketers.

The Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney ordered the penalty against Newcastle man Andre Praglowski following a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Praglowski ran an outbound call centre on Hunter Street, Newcastle, through his company Country Hospitality Pty Ltd. 

Federal Magistrate Rolf Driver imposed the fine after 62 casual telemarketers were underpaid a total of $38,895 between 2006 and 2009. The underpayments have not been rectified.

The telemarketers, who were employed to sell holiday packages, were paid as little as $10 an hour when they were entitled to receive between $15.30 and $17.17 an hour at the time.

Fair Work inspectors discovered the underpayments when they investigated complaints from the workers last year.

Federal Magistrate Driver said: “Penalties in this case should be imposed on a meaningful level so as to deter other employers from committing similar contraventions.”

Praglowski placed Country Hospitality into voluntary liquidation in June this year, preventing the Fair Work Ombudsman from continuing its prosecution against the company.

However, Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Mike Campbell says the penalty against Praglowski sends a message that company directors will be held accountable for their actions in the event that they wind up their business.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a number of tools on its website to assist employees and employers to check minimum rates of pay.

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

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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