Northern NSW nursery fined for underpaying staff and ordered to make back-payments

20 June 2011

A northern NSW nursery has been fined $10,700 for underpaying its employees and ordered to back-pay the employees $26,992.

Futures Green Pty Ltd, which has operated a nursery at Leycester, near Lismore, received the fine in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney.

The company's chief executive, Garry Richard Payne, also of Leycester, has been fined a further $1740.

The fines and back-payment order are the result of a successful prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

They were imposed by Federal Magistrate Robert Cameron after Payne admitted he was involved in Futures Green underpaying 19 nursery hands a total of $36,700 between April, 2006 and March, 2009.

Federal Magistrate Cameron said: "It is important that the penalties imposed by the Court send a message to others not to engage in contravening conduct such as that committed by the respondents."

The employees, including 10 teenagers, were paid flat hourly rates below their lawful entitlement, resulting in underpayment of their minimum hourly rate, overtime pay and annual leave entitlements.

They were only partially reimbursed prior to the penalties being handed down.

Futures Green also breached workplace laws relating to employment records.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says employers who underpay their staff after making minimal effort to determine correct pay rates will be held to account.

"Successful prosecutions such as this also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws, because it helps them to compete on a level playing field," Mr Campbell said.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Keep up to date with the Fair Work Ombudsman and updates on Australia's workplace relations laws through Twitter @fairwork_gov_au external-icon.png.

Media inquiries:

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

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