FWO secures penalties against Sydney Recycle Timber Store company and owner

FWO secures penalties against Sydney Recycle Timber Store company and owner

FWO secures penalties against Sydney Recycle Timber Store company and owner

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has secured penalties against the owner of a recycled timber business in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for failing to comply with statutory Compliance Notices issued by the authority relating to underpayment of entitlements.

The FWO secured penalties amounting to $5,000, comprising $4,000 against Joe Antonios Carpentry and Formwork Pty Ltd and $1,000 against the Company’s sole director, secretary and shareholder, Joe Antonios.

The Company trades as ‘Wastewood’, a recycled timber store operating from several premises in Sydney.

The penalties arose from a Compliance Notice issued against the business on 15 September 2021, requiring it to calculate and back pay entitlements to a worker it employed.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice after forming a belief that the business had failed to pay a worker accrued entitlements, including accrued but unused annual leave on termination and payment in lieu of notice on termination.

One of the FWO’s key functions is to investigate possible breaches of workplace laws, and they have shown an increasing desire to initiate legal action against businesses that are unwilling to act reasonably when claims are made.

In imposing the penalties, Justice Samantha Laing noted,

“The parties agreed that the Company was given numerous opportunities, including at the investigation phase, to rectify its non-compliance and yet failed to do so. The parties agreed that the Respondents’ failure to rectify the non-compliance gave the FWO no other option than to commence proceedings at the public’s expense to recover the amounts owed to the employee and uphold compliance with the FW Act”.

Justice Laing acknowledged that the penalties she imposed for the infringements reflect that the Company had not been involved in previous instances of non-compliance, had repaid the amounts owing to the previous employee, and were prepared to settle the matter at an early stage in the proceedings.

Employers should note that in the event of an underpayment of entitlements, the FWO always gives businesses the opportunity to settle matters identified in compliance Notices, thereby nullifying the need to attend court or incur additional penalties.

Interestingly, Justice Laing felt the need to make the following observation,

“The FWO has observed that the Company operates in the carpentry services industry (Industry). That industry has been submitted to involve a moderate rate of disputes, a significant portion of which relate to payment of wages on termination and accrued annual leave. These matters are of particular concern to the FWO”.

 Fair Work Ombudsman v Joe Antonios Carpentry and Woodwork Pty Ltd (No 2) [2023] FedCFamC2G 232 (24 March 2023)

For questions about compliance with awards or agreements, wage claims, the FWO, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

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.

Ref: 365.0723

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