Sydney security company revamps workplace processes after underpayments

3 February 2014

A Sydney company director who admits underpaying 24 casual security guards has agreed to undertake workplace relations training, following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Ghulam Akbar, of Kingswood, and his company Attic Protective Services Pty Ltd will also apologise in writing to former staff over the failure to comply with federal workplace laws.

They have already voluntarily back-paid them a total of more than $7000 after it was found the workers were short-changed between August, 2012 and March, 2013.

Mr Akbar is the owner-operator of Attic Protective Services, which is in the business of providing guards for crowd control and monitoring of closed circuit security systems.

After conducting an investigation following an audit of the company’s workplace practices, Fair Work inspectors discovered Attic Protective Services had been paying its casual staff a flat hourly rate that was below the rates under the applicable Award.

This resulted in the employees variously being underpaid casual loadings, shift allowances, minimum shift pay, penalty rates for weekend, night and overtime work. The employees were also not provided with pay slips.

After the investigation was closed, Mr Akbar and Attic Protective Services agreed to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

As part of the Undertaking, they have agreed to:

  • Put policies and procedures in place to ensure ongoing compliance with the Security Services Industry Award 2010, and report on these to the Fair Work Ombudsman,
  • Ensure Mr Akbar and any other staff currently employed or recruited over the next three years with responsibility for payroll, human resources or recruitment undertake specialist training with an accredited provider,
  • Conduct independent audits of the company’s workplace relations practices for the next three years, and
  • Apologise to former staff in writing and publish a notice detailing the contraventions and corrective action in The Manly Daily newspaper.

Mr Akbar has also agreed to conduct independent audits of any new businesses he owns or operates in the security industry over the next three years.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the Enforceable Undertaking is in line with the Agency's commitment to proactively improve compliance rates in the security industry.

"We are committed to working with employers in the security industry to drive behavioural change and ensure compliance," she said.

Enforceable Undertakings are one of a number of ways the Fair Work Ombudsman is encouraging voluntary compliance with federal workplace laws.

"We are serious about our job of building knowledgeable and fairer workplaces and don’t insist there is only one way to achieve compliance - ducation and positive motivators are equally as important as deterrents," she said.

Enforceable Undertakings were introduced by legislation in 2009 and the Fair Work Ombudsman has been using them to achieve strong outcomes against companies that breach workplace laws without civil court proceedings.

"Their purpose is to focus the employer on the tasks to be carried out to remedy the alleged contravention and/or prevent a similar contravention in the future,” Ms James said.

"Many of the initiatives included in Enforceable Undertakings - like compulsory training sessions - help to build a greater understanding of workplace responsibilities, motivate the company to do the right thing and help them avoid the same mistakes again."

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a range of free tools and resources available at that employers can use to ensure they are meeting their obligations under workplace laws, including paying their employees their correct entitlements.

Resources include templates for hiring, managing and dismissing staff, timesheet and pay slip templates, leave application forms and a self-audit check list.

Online tools such as PayCheck Plus and an Award Finder are available to assist business owners to calculate the correct pay for their employees.

An 'Industries' section on the website provides extra, specialised information for employers and employees in a range of industries, including security.

The Fair Work Ombudsman conducts a number of large national education and compliance campaigns each year aimed at improving compliance in various industries.

In 2009, the Fair Work Ombudsman audited 302 security businesses nationally and found that only 47 per cent were complying with workplace laws.

It conducted a second campaign some time later, auditing another 392 security firms, noting a significant improvement of 75 per cent compliance.

Employers can call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 between 8 am and 5.30 pm weekdays to obtain free advice and assistance from a team of expert advisers. A free interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50.

Copy of undertaking:

Follow the Fair Work Ombudsman on Twitter @fairwork_gov_au external-icon.png or find us on Facebook external-icon.png.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Media Director
Mobile: 0411 430 902

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