Landscaping business operator in court

1 September 2021

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operator of a residential landscaping business in Melbourne.

Facing court is Adam John Powell, a sole trader who operates Oak and Stone Landscaping, based in Mernda.

The regulator investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a young worker who was employed as a labourer at the business between August and October, 2020.

The worker was aged 17 at the time.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Mr Powell in January 2021 after forming a belief the worker had not been paid entitlements owed under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010.

The inspector formed a belief the worker had been underpaid his minimum wage rate and casual loadings for some work performed and had not been paid at all for some work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Mr Powell, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required him to calculate and back-pay the worker’s outstanding entitlements.

It is alleged Mr Powell also issued false or misleading pay slips to the worker. 

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and take business operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” Ms Parker said.

In relation to the alleged Compliance Notice breach, Mr Powell faces a maximum penalty of $6,600. In addition, Mr Powell faces a maximum penalty of up to $13,320 for allegedly issuing false pay slips.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a court order for Mr Powell to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, including calculating and rectifying any underpayment in full, plus superannuation and interest.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 1 September 2021.

Employers and employees can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Assistant Director - Media
Mobile: 0411 430 902