Queensland construction business fined for underpaying teenager

17 May 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 former operators of a Queensland construction business have been fined a total of $9000 for underpaying a teenage employee.

David James Hoskins, who together with his wife formerly owned and ran a construction business at Logan City, has been fined $1000.

JDAC Pty Ltd - the private company through which Hoskins and his wife operated the business - has been fined a further $8000.

The fines, imposed in the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane, are the result of a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

A full-time carpenter employed by JDAC was underpaid $8947 between June, 2008 and February, 2009 when he was aged 18 to 19.

The underpayment was the result of the employee being paid apprentice rates, despite not being formally registered as an apprentice.

Under workplace law, employers can pay an employee apprentice rates only when the employee and employer have completed an apprenticeship contract and lodged it with the relevant authority to register the apprentice.

JDAC paid the employee apprentice-rates of $7.46 to $7.73 an hour despite not having completed or lodged an apprenticeship contract for him.

Because the employee was not registered as an apprentice, he was entitled to be paid more than $15 an hour.

Fair Work inspectors discovered the underpayment when they investigated a complaint lodged by the employee.

Full rectification of the underpayment occurred only after the Fair Work Ombudsman launched its prosecution.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says the penalty illustrates that underpaying young workers is a serious matter.

There are sections of the Fair Work Ombudsman's website - www.fairwork.gov.au - devoted to providing information specifically in relation to young workers, apprentices and trainees.

Employers or employees seeking assistance can also contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations
0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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