Penalty against Whyalla cleaning operator

1 December 2016

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a penalty against the former operator of a cleaning business at Whyalla, in regional South Australia, following the underpayment of eight employees.

Sharna Harvey, who operated Sharn’s Cleaning Services, has been penalised $1400 in the Federal Circuit Court for failing to comply with a Compliance Notice last year requiring her to back-pay eight underpaid employees a total of $7673, and also failing to provide the employees with payslips and comply with record keeping obligations.

Under the Fair Work Act, business operators must adhere to Compliance Notices or make a Court application for a review if they are seeking to challenge a Compliance Notice.

The employees were placed with Harvey through an employment agency specialising in helping unemployed persons transition from the receipt of social security benefits to paid employment. 

The employees were underpaid for cleaning and clerical work they undertook in relation to residential properties, deceased estates and mining sites between January and April 2015.

Five of the employees did not receive any payments at all while they were employed by Harvey. 

Harvey back-paid the workers only after the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action against her.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says underpayment of cleaners’ minimum lawful entitlements is a persistent non-compliance issue nationally and the cleaning industry will continue to be a priority for her Agency.

Earlier this year, the Fair Work Ombudsman again called on cleaning contractors to pay greater attention to wage rates after another of the Agency’s national campaigns found cleaning businesses continuing to short-change their workers – see 'Cleaning industry compliance needs to improve'.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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Eithne Johnston, Media Adviser
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