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Businessman fined $42K over underpayments

A labour-hire operator in Melbourne has been fined $42,480 after intentionally underpaying two workers.
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Businessman fined $42K over underpayments

5 April 2016

Two employees were underpaid $1970 for short periods of work in 2013 and 2014. The owner also breached sham contracting laws by misclassifying one of the employees as a contractor and violated his pay-slip obligations.

In addition, workplace laws were breached when the owner failed to respond to two Notices to Produce employment records issued by Fair Work inspectors.

The Federal Circuit Court imposed a penalty on the business owner following an investigation and legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

A Court Order made in August to back-pay the two workers in full was not complied with.

Judge Heather Riley said the owner had been the subject of a “litany of complaints” relating to underpayments and the Fair Work Ombudsman had previously made him aware “that his conduct was unlawful”.

“However, he continued to engage in it,” Judge Riley said. “Consequently, the court can only conclude that the breaches were deliberate.”

It had been found the owner was involved in five failed companies, which resulted in a deficit of over $26 million and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) disqualifying them from managing a corporation for 5 years.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the Court’s decision sends a clear message to employers that deliberately underpaying workers and ignoring warnings to comply with workplace laws is extremely serious conduct.

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