A Melbourne toy shop is facing massive penalties in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) first case using new legislation designed to protect vulnerable workers and penalise businesses for ‘serious contraventions’.
The operator of the toy shop is accused of underpaying workers, who were all temporary visa holders aged in their 20s, a total of more than $20,000, with some workers paid as little as $6.70 an hour.
The basis of the FWO’s claim that the operator’s contraventions were serious as a result of the business and their directors failed to correct any of their alleged non-compliance despite ‘extensive engagement’ with the FWO.
The FWO has received requests for assistance from former employees dating back several years, and previously issued the company with a letter of caution, education materials, pay guides and Notices to Produce employment documents.
During investigation by the FWO, the operator allegedly failed to cooperate and pay back any of the employees’ unpaid entitlements. As a result, the FWO is making use of changes to the Fair Work Act through the Protecting Vulnerable Workers legislation introduced in 2017.
The changes introduced penalties of ten times that which would ordinarily apply where there are serious contraventions. The new maximum penalties for these serious contraventions are $630,000 per breach for a company and $126,000 for an individual.
If you’re concerned that your business might not be complying with its obligations, call our office today on 07 5444 1022 to organise an obligation-free compliance audit.
Harry McDonald is a solicitor admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Queensland, practising in the Commercial and Property Law team at Greenhalgh Pickard Solicitors. Within commercial law, Harry has a keen interest in employment law and enjoys assisting commercial clients in all areas of their employment & industrial relations with experience in employment contracts, sub-contractor agreements, restraint clauses, unfair dismissals, general protections, workplace policies and guidelines and general HR advice.