Cleaners allegedly had $130,000 unlawfully deducted from their wages
14 February 2014
A Melbourne recruitment and labour hire company allegedlyfalsified its employment records and unlawfully deducted tens of thousands ofdollars from the wages of dozens of cleaners.
Oz Staff Career Services Pty Ltd faces civil proceedings in the FederalCircuit Court following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Also facing Court is the company's sole director, Travice Blom, of PattersonLakes, and a third person employed as a manager at the company.
In documents filed in the Court, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleges that OzStaff Career Services unlawfully deducted a total of $130,183 from the wages of102 employees between December, 2011 and May, 2013.
Alleged underpayments of individual employees range from $5 to $2246.
Fair Work inspectors selected the 102 employees as a sample group from OzStaff Career Service's staff and checked their entitlements when they auditedthe company in 2012.
Oz Staff Career Services allegedly on-hired the employees to a third party toundertake cleaning work at Federation Square and Crown Casino.
Court papers allege that 'administration fees' of around $25 a week andlesser amounts for 'meal fees' were deducted from employees' wages.
The Fair Work Ombudsman submits that the deductions were unlawful becausethey were not principally for the benefit of the employees and the employees hadnot authorised them in accordance with workplace laws.
According to a Statement of Claim, administration-fee deductions continued tobe made despite Mr Blom telling Fair Work Inspectors that they would cease.
Oz Staff Career Services allegedly further breached workplace laws when itprovided inspectors with false and misleading records that did not containdetails of the deductions.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says theseriousness of the alleged breaches and the involvement of vulnerable workersare significant factors in the Agency's decision to commence legal action.
Oz Staff Career Services faces maximum penalties of between $33,000 and$51,000 per breach, while the individuals each face maximum penalties rangingfrom $6600 to $10,200 per breach.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking penalties and a Court Order for Oz StaffCareer Services to rectify any underpayments that have not been rectified.
It is also seeking Court Orders requiring the company to:
- Cease making unlawful deductions of administration and meal fees from employees' wages,
- Write to all cleaners it employed between December, 2011 and May, 2013 informing them of the outcome of the Fair Work Ombudsman's legal action,
- Appoint a contact person to handle employee inquiries,
- Commission workplace relations compliance training for Mr Blom and the manager at the company, and
- Provide evidence to the Fair Work Ombudsman that it has complied with the Orders.
A directions hearing for the case is listed in the Federal Circuit Court inMelbourne on March 6.
Employers and employees seeking assistance shouldvisit www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.
A free interpreter service for those fromnon-English speaking backgrounds is available by calling 13 1450 and information about workplace laws is translated into 27 differentlanguages at www.fairwork.gov.au/languages
Online tools include PayCheck Plus and an Award Finder to assist businessowners and employees determine the correct award and minimum wages for theirindustry, templates for pay slips and time-and-wages records and a range of factsheets on workplace entitlements.
An 'Industries' section on the website provides extra, specialisedinformation for employers and employees in a range of industries, includingretail, horticulture, road transport, accommodation and hospitality, cleaning,clerical, vehicle, electrical, fast food, building and construction, hair andbeauty, joinery, metal manufacturing, social and community services, plumbingand security.
Follow the Fair Work Ombudsman on Twitter @fairwork_gov_auor find us on Facebook.
Ryan Pedler, Assistant Media Director
Mobile:0411 430 902
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