Employers face court over alleged failure to comply with back-payment demands
12 February 2014
The Fair Work Ombudsman is encouraging employers who have underpaid their
staff to rectify any outstanding entitlements promptly, after launching a series
of legal proceedings against employers who have allegedly failed to comply with
Under the Fair Work Act, employers must comply with Compliance Notices issued
by Fair Work Inspectors, unless they have a reasonable excuse, or make a Court
application to challenge the Notice.
A number of employers in Queensland and
Victoria are facing civil proceedings in Court for allegedly
failing to take action after being issued with Fair Work Ombudsman Compliance
Notices late last year:
- Brisbane information technology consultancy Extrados
Solutions Pty Ltd and the company's sole director Peter Johnson allegedly failed
to back-pay an employee aged in his early 20s a total of $10,813 in wages and
annual leave entitlements. The employee was a Chinese national who was in
Australia on a 457 visa and spoke limited English.
- Gold Coast-based Absynthe Restaurant Pty Ltd and the
restaurant's owner-operator Meyjitte Boughenout allegedly failed to back-pay an
18-year-old apprentice chef $4195 in wages and annual leave entitlements.
- Megha Sood – former owner-operator of Anahata Food for Life Indian
restaurant at Ocean Grove, in Victoria - and
her company Anahata Naturals Pty Ltd allegedly failed to back-pay $8707 to an
underpaid chef, a Sri Lankan national who was in Australia on a temporary
- Melbourne orthodontics specialist Daladontics (Vic.) Pty
Ltd allegedly failed to back-pay a total of $9345 to two dental technicians who
had been underpaid wages. One employee is a foreign worker who was in Australia
on a temporary working visa.
The maximum penalty for a company for failing to comply with a Compliance
Notice is $25,500 per breach, while the maximum penalty for individuals is $5100
In each case, the Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking an additional Court
Order for the alleged underpayment to be rectified in full.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, said employers - and professionals who
provide advice to employers - need to be aware of their obligations under a
Compliance Notice issued by inspectors.
"Fair Work inspectors have made extensive efforts to engage with these
employers in relation to the alleged underpayments but have not been able to
secure sufficient co-operation from the employers," Ms James said.
Fair Work inspectors identify underpayments at thousands of businesses
nationally each year and resolve the vast majority of these matters by working
co-operatively with employers, guiding them through the back-payment process and
assisting them to put systems in place to ensure they pay their staff correctly
However, if employers refuse to co-operate, Fair Work inspectors will
consider compliance action, including issuing statute-based Compliance Notices,
which usually seek action within 28 days.
On Compliance Notices, Ms James says: "It is important for employers to
understand that the Fair Work Ombudsman is simply seeking to recover wages that
should have been paid in the first instance - we are not seeking to be
However, the Fair Work Ombudsman is willing to initiate legal proceedings
where Compliance Notices are subsequently ignored and the Agency believes it is
in the public interest to do so.
The matters listed above are being heard in the Federal Circuit Court.
Employers and employees seeking assistance should
visit www.fairwork.gov.au or contact
the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service
is available by calling 13 14 50.
Helpful online tools include PayCheck Plus and an Award Finder to assist
business owners and employees determine the correct award and minimum wages for
their industry, templates for pay slips and time-and-wages records and a range
of fact sheets on workplace entitlements.
An 'Industries" section on the website provides extra, specialised
information for employers and employees in a range of industries, including
retail, horticulture, road transport, accommodation and hospitality, cleaning,
clerical, vehicle, electrical, fast food, building and construction, hair and
beauty, joinery, metal manufacturing, social and community services, plumbing
Dedicated website resources for small businesses,
including a Fair Work Handbook and tips for new employers about hiring staff,
are available at www.fairwork.gov.au/smallbusiness
Ms James says supporting small business with information and advice on
workplace laws is a high priority for the Agency.
"We are striving to provide accessible, credible and reliable information,
focusing our resources quite deliberately at times on the sectors we believe
need the most assistance," she said.
Follow the Fair Work Ombudsman on Twitter @fairwork_gov_au
or find us on Facebook
Ryan Pedler, Assistant Media Director
0411 430 902
Want to save this information for later?
If you might need to read this information again, save it for later so you can access it quickly and easily.
Page reference No: 2610