Northern NSW nursery faces court for allegedly underpaying employees almost $40,000

27 January 2011

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against a northern NSW nursery for allegedly underpaying 19 of its employees - 11 of them teenagers - almost $40,000.

Facing court is Futures Green Pty Ltd, which has operated a nursery at Leycester, near Lismore.

Also facing court is the company’s chief executive, Garry Richard Payne, also of Leycester.

Documents lodged in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney allege Mr Payne was centrally involved in the workers being underpaid a total of $38,867 between April, 2006 and March, 2009.

The employees were allegedly paid flat hourly rates below their lawful entitlement, resulting in underpayment of their minimum hourly rate, overtime pay and annual leave entitlements.

The Fair Work Ombudsman says Futures Green has reimbursed some money, but $30,917 in back-payments remains outstanding.

The largest amount allegedly still owed to an individual employee is $3385.

Court documents also claim that Futures Green further breached workplace law by failing to keep proper employment records.

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

It is alleged Futures Green and Mr Payne committed four underpayment-related breaches of workplace laws. They face maximum potential penalties of $33,000 and $6600 per breach respectively.

Futures Green is also facing maximum penalties of $1650 per breach for six alleged record-keeping breaches.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking a Court Order for Futures Green to back-pay employees the entitlements allegedly still owing. The case is listed for a directions hearing on February 4.

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:

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

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