Regional SA transport company to back-pay workers $142,000

18 January 2011

Port Pirie-based Irvine’s Transport has agreed to reimburse 26 of its staff a total of $142,609 after it was discovered the employees were being underpaid.

The workers - mostly casual drivers and yard hands - were underpaid between March, 2006 and January, 2009, an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman revealed.

The underpayments range from as little as $45 to $29,174. Other significant amounts include $16,075, $14,218, $9764, $9069 and $7925.

Irvine’s Transport paid its workers a flat rate of pay for all hours worked, resulting in underpayment of penalty rates for weekends, public holidays and work performed outside ordinary hours.

The company also failed to make a minimum payment of four hours to casual workers.

The contraventions were discovered when Irvine’s Transport was randomly audited as part of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s National Road Transport Industry Campaign in 2008.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has accepted that the underpayments were inadvertent and the result of ignorance of the law rather than deliberate non-compliance.

As a result, the Fair Work Ombudsman has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking with the company as an alternative to litigation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says Enforceable Undertakings are a mechanism by which the Agency can still achieve strong outcomes against wrong-doers without civil penalty proceedings.

As part of the Enforceable Undertaking, Irvine’s Transport must:

  • Back-pay all outstanding entitlements totalling $142,609.96 to 26 workers in monthly instalments by no later than December 1, 2011,
  • Write to affected current and former staff apologising for the error and giving a commitment not to breach workplace laws in future,
  • Conduct a paid meeting for existing employees affected by the error to explain its rectification of the underpayments,
  • Provide evidence in writing to the Fair Work Ombudsman that it has put systems and processes in place to ensure ongoing compliance,
  • Place a public notice in the Port Pirie Recorder advising the community of the error and offering “sincere regret and apologies” for the breaches,
  • Prepare a workplace relations compliance manual for distribution to company managers and staff,
  • Ensure that company principals Gregory John Irvine and Scott David Irvine both attend an accredited training course, and
  • Report to the Fair Work Ombudsman at the end of the financial year for the next three years on staff classifications and their wages rates and entitlements and details of any proactive compliance measures implemented during the course of the year.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a number of tools on its website - www.fairwork.gov.au - to assist employees and employers to check minimum rates of pay, including PayCheck, PayrollCheck and a Pay Rate Calculator.

Small to medium-sized businesses without human resources staff can also ensure they are better equipped when hiring, managing and dismissing employees by using free template employment documentation with step-by-step instructions or accessing a series of Best Practice Guides.

Online resources also include payslip and record-keeping templates, a self-audit checklist and fact sheets.

The ‘Industries’ section on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website provides information specifically tailored for employers and workers in the retail, cleaning, clerical, hair and beauty, security and horticulture industries.

Employers or employees seeking assistance or further information can also contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 from 8am-6pm weekdays. 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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