Glass repair business penalised $35,500 for ignoring $8000 compensation Order

18 February 2016

A national glass repair business has been penalised $35,500 after ignoring a Fair Work Commission Order to compensate an employee who had been unfairly dismissed.

The Federal Circuit Court has imposed the penalty against AAA Aussie Emergency Glass Pty Ltd following legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

In August, 2014, the Fair Work Commission ordered the company to pay $8000 compensation to a Melbourne-based sales and marketing employee it found had been unfairly dismissed in 2013.

The employee complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman after the compensation was not paid within the required 21 days.

The Agency made several requests for the company to comply with the Commission’s Order, but it did not, and the $8000 compensation remains unpaid.

Handing down his decision this week, Judge Grant Riethmuller said the matter had “proceeded at a pace slow enough to enable the company to make the payment, or at least demonstrate some commitment to making the payment prior to the penalty hearing.”

Judge Riethmuller said the company’s failure to compensate its former employee had contributed to her falling behind with phone bills, credit bills and a personal loan.

“The conduct undermines the utility and effectiveness of the Fair Work Commission, which is established as an informal body to hear and determine such matters and provide cost-effective remedies,” he said.

Judge Riethmuller said evidence of previous dealings with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s predecessor indicated an awareness of the role of the regulator, and in that context, the company’s failure to comply with the Commission’s Order was “a serious challenge to its authority”.

“There is nothing in the material (provided by the company to the Court) to indicate any contrition on the part of the respondent. Payment has not been made. At best, the submissions appear to be a desire to engage in processes that would either result in delay or minimisation of the process,” he said.

Judge Riethmuller accepted submissions from the Fair Work Ombudsman that there had been no real co-operation and said there was a need for specific deterrence “given the respondent continues to trade and has made no attempt to comply with the Order.”

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says her Agency has an important role to play in enforcing Orders issued by the Fair Work Commission.

“Building a culture of compliance with workplace law is important, and employers should be aware that we are prepared to take action where appropriate,” she said.

“The integrity of the system must be upheld.”

Ms James says her Agency is working hard to ensure a level playing field for employers who are doing the right thing and meeting their workplace obligations.

In September, 2014, a Melbourne company and its director were penalised almost $50,000 for ignoring a Fair Work Commission Order to pay $2200 compensation to a young employee.

“We are committed to helping employers understand and comply with workplace laws, but operators need to make an effort to get the basics right in the first place,” Ms James said.

She encouraged employers who had any uncertainty about their workplace practices to visit the website at www.fairwork.gov.au or phone the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

An interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50 and information on the website is translated into 27 languages.

Small business can opt to be put through to a small business helpline, which has now assisted more than 290,000 callers since it was established.

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently introduced a Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT), which provides advice about pay, shift, leave and redundancy entitlements. Free templates for pay slips and time-and-wage-records are also available on the website.

Sign up to receive the Fair Work Ombudsman’s media releases direct to your email inbox at www.fairwork.gov.au/mediareleases.

Media inquiries:

Annie Lawson, Media Adviser
Mobile: 0466 522 004
annie.lawson@fwo.gov.au

Lara O'Toole, Media Adviser
Mobile: 0439 835 855
lara.otoole@fwo.gov.au

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