FWO pursuing prosecution against Perth construction business
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit and Family Court against a Perth construction company and its Sole Director, following complaints from two former employees that the company had failed to pay their accrued annual leave entitlements on termination.
The employer operates an on-site building, engineering and civil construction business.
The FWO began an investigation into the business following complaints from the employees, a drilling supervisor and a driller, who claimed that they had not been paid accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements at the conclusion of their employment in November 2020 and February 2021.
Earlier this year, the FWO issued Compliance Notices against the business requiring the calculation of back pay for the two employees. The regulator alleges that the Director was aware of the contraventions.
One of the FWO’s key functions is to investigate possible breaches of workplace laws. They have shown an increasing desire to initiate legal action against businesses unwilling to act reasonably when claims are made.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, commented,
“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties where lawful requests are not complied with. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance”.
In accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009, the construction business is facing maximum penalties of up to $33,300 for each of the two alleged contraventions of the Compliance Notices, while the Director is facing a maximum penalty of up to $6,600 for each alleged contravention.
The FWO recently secured a $20,000 penalty in the Federal Circuit Court against a Gold Coast based civil works company for failing to comply with a Compliance Notice issued by the agency alleging similar as contained in the current case.
In the financial year 2019/20, the FWO mediated 1808 disputes resulting in the recovery of $4.3m in unpaid entitlements and undertook 2370 investigations leading to the recovery of $5.8m in unpaid entitlements.
We acknowledge the rule of law and the importance of a fair work system for all Australians. However, the FWO, FCC, FWC and Employer continue to struggle with an overly complex system. A system in which mega employers, lawyers, universities, big brands, and banks are making million-dollar mistakes with no genuine effort to simplify Award rates. The Commission has again made substantial improvements; however, if the wage summary sheet exceeds five pages, you need to start again. The current FWO Pay Guide – Building and Construction General On-site Award is 120 pages in addition to the 130 pages of the Award having completed its latest four-year review in 2021.
For questions about the FWO, Compliance Notices, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 WAL LAW, 0417 622 178 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.