Former horseriding recreation centre penalised

15 March 2023

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a total of $21,978 in penalties in court against the former operators of a horseriding recreation centre in the Gold Coast hinterland.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed an $18,315 penalty against Equine Robinson Pty Ltd, which in its capacity as Trustee for the Equine Robinson Trust operated ‘Horse Riding Hinterland’ based in Tamborine Mountain, and a $3,663 penalty against the company’s sole director, Ocean Robinson.

The penalties were imposed in response to Equine Robinson failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to back-pay entitlements to a casual weekend horseriding attendant it employed between June 2019 and November 2020. Ms Robinson was involved in Equine Robinson’s failure to comply with the Compliance Notice.

The Court has also ordered the company to take the steps required by the Compliance Notice, including back-paying the worker’s outstanding entitlements in full, plus superannuation and interest.

The FWO investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a young worker, aged between 20 and 21 at the time, who was employed by Equine Robinson with duties including operating group horseriding tours and trail rides, managing bookings, as well as feeding and grooming the horses.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements. Protecting vulnerable workers, who can include young workers, is an enduring priority,” Ms Parker said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The Compliance Notice was issued in July 2021 after a Fair Work Inspector formed a belief that the worker was underpaid casual minimum wages including loading and Sunday penalty rates under the Amusements, Events and Recreation Award 2010 and the Amusements, Events and Recreation Award 2020.

In imposing the penalties, Judge Gregory Egan said, “It is important that all businesses, big and small, comply with workplace relations legislation, and that they be deterred from breaching such legislation.”

Judge Egan accepted that there was a need for general deterrence in imposing a pecuniary penalty for contraventions of the Fair Work Act.

His Honour noted that in this case, there had been no “actual contrition” and no “demonstrated desire on the part of the offenders to remedy their recalcitrant behaviour”.

“In the present matter, such positive behaviour has been absent,” Judge Egan said.

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. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

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