Court action over alleged $28,000 underpayment of retail workers

15 Aug 2012

Note: Reference to prosecution in this media release is a general reference to the FWO commencing proceedings for the imposition of civil penalties and should not be taken to be a reference to criminal proceedings.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is prosecuting a retail company, alleging it underpaid 13 employees in Adelaide and Brisbane, including many foreign workers, more than $28,000.

Facing court is Lycamobile Pty Ltd.

It is alleged that the company underpaid 10 employees in Brisbane and three in Adelaide a total of $28,034 between February and September, 2011.

Twelve of the workers were foreign nationals who were employed to promote and sell pre-paid mobile phone SIM cards and top-up vouchers. Several of the workers were in Australia on student, working holiday and other types of visas.

The other employee, based in Brisbane, performed administration duties.

It is alleged that the employees, who ranged in age from 19 to 36 and were variously employed on a full-time or casual basis, were generally paid flat rates of $15 an hour.

This allegedly led to underpayment of their minimum hourly rates and penalty rates for weekend, public holiday, evening and overtime work.

Employees were also variously underpaid casual loadings, wages in lieu of notice and annual leave entitlements.

Alleged underpayments of individual employees range from $32 to $6869.

Fair Work inspectors discovered the alleged underpayments when they investigated complaints lodged by employees. The alleged underpayments were rectified after the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced its investigation.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully says the decision to prosecute was made because of the significant amount involved for many vulnerable employees.

Lycamobile allegedly committed several breaches of workplace laws. The company faces maximum penalties of $33,000 per breach. A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane on September 5.

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

Media inquiries:

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

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