Formal cautions were issued to 54 businesses that employed apprentices. Formal cautions are a written warning when the FWO has found non-compliance and wants to put a business on notice that future non-compliance could result in the FWO seeking financial penalties. If the FWO becomes aware of any further instances of non-compliance, the fact the business was issued with a formal caution will be a factor taken into account in deciding whether to commence civil proceedings against the business and may be used as evidence in any penalty determinations.
Formal cautions were issued to businesses employing apprentices across all the industries, with most being issued in the Electrical Services (15), Automotive (7) and Manufacturing (7) industries.
Compliance Notices were issued to seven businesses in relation to their apprentices. A Compliance Notice is a written notice legally requiring a business to rectify contraventions of the Act. A total of $38 937.63 was back paid by seven businesses to 12 apprentices as a result of the Compliance Notices issued.
FWI’s audited a joinery and furniture construction business in Victoria as part of the campaign. The business has over 30 employees including three cabinet making apprentices. One of the apprentices was a first year, and the other two were second year apprentices.
FWI’s assessed the employment records of the apprentices, and found that two of the apprentices were working a 40 hours week with no overtime or rostered day off provided. The Timber Industry Award 2010 (the Award) provides for overtime to be paid for hours worked in excess of 38 ordinary hours worked per week for the apprentices of this business. FWI’s further determined that whilst all the apprentices were receiving the apprentice rates as specified in the Award, one of the apprentices commenced work with the business after he had turned 21 years of age. Under the Award, this apprentice is considered an adult apprentice and entitled to the higher adult apprentice rates specified in the Award. Further, FWI’s also identified that two of the apprentices were not receiving annual leave loading as is required by the Award.
FWI’s provided assistance to the business on the tools the FWO has available to determine rates of pay, and required the business to use those rates to calculate the underpayments to the apprentices from the issues that were identified in the records.
After completion of the assessment, it was determined that 2 of the apprentices had been underpaid just over $20,000. Given the significance of the underpayments, and that the underpaid employees were apprentices, the FWI issued a Compliance Notice to the business. The Compliance Notice required the business to repay the amount outstanding to the apprentices if full, and within 28 days. A failure to comply with a Compliance Notice can mean the FWO can commence legal action for not complying with the notice. That legal action can include the recovery of outstanding entitlements and the imposition of penalties.
The business paid the amounts outstanding in full to the two apprentices within the required timeframe and no further action was required under the Compliance Notice. The business was provided information and free tools the FWO has available to correctly calculate and ensure their apprentices are receiving their correct entitlements. The business will be considered for inclusion in the FWO’s National Compliance Monitoring Campaign.
Five businesses were issued with an Infringement Notice for not keeping the correct records and/or pay slips for their apprentices. An Infringement Notice is a fine given to a business for non-compliance with record-keeping or pay slip requirements of the Act and Regulations. The total amount of fines issued through infringement notices during the campaign was $1620.
All businesses found to be non-compliant in the campaign will be re-audited as part of the FWO’s National Compliance Monitoring Campaign. If businesses continue to underpay their apprentices, or fail to keep the required apprentice records, the FWO will take further enforcement action including the taking of court action to have financial penalties imposed.