This article is part of a regular newsletter. If you wish to receive the newsletter providing information on the latest employee relations news and trends click here and use the “contact us” tab.

My business grows by referrals. I would appreciate it if you would pass my details on to your colleagues, clients or associates who could benefit from my skill set. Defending/Preventing unfair dismissals, policies and procedures, contracts of employment, codes of conduct and more…

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recovered $25,292 in unpaid wages for 270 employees after investigating companies contracted to clean some of the nation’s leading stadiums.

Fair Work Inspectors investigated nine cleaning companies following surprise site visits to Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, Perth’s Optus Stadium, the Adelaide Oval, Brisbane’s Gabba, Melbourne’s AAMI Park and Canberra’s GIO Stadium in September and October last year.

This was in response to general intelligence that cleaning companies in the stadiums sector may not have been compliant with workplace laws, including concerns about possible sham contracting.

Inspectors interviewed cleaners and supervisors about the work that cleaners were required to do, photographed venues to better understand the employment conditions, and inspected records.

The FWO found that seven of the nine cleaning companies (78 per cent) were non-compliant with workplace laws. Seven companies were found to have underpaid their employees and three had breached pay slip obligations. Breaches included failures to correctly pay the minimum hourly rate, casual loading, and penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and overtime hours.

While the stadium operators were not found to be involved in contraventions of workplace laws, inspectors found layers of sub-contracting operating without appropriate checks and balances to ensure workplace relations compliance.

Inspectors also found poor record-keeping practices at the bottom of sub-contracting supply chains. No sham contracting or misclassification of employment was found.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator has engaged with stadium operators and recommended governance improvements, including the need to review existing contracts.

“The FWO’s investigations identified opportunities for stadium operators, as heads of supply chains, to increase their level of involvement in how cleaning contractors operated,” Ms Parker said.

“We expect all cleaning employers to comply with workplace laws. The heads of all supply chains should be aware that they can be held responsible if they are found to be involved in any breaches by their contractors. Any workers with concerns about their pay should contact us,” Ms Parker said.

In total, there were recoveries of $20,961 for 139 workers from three businesses contracted to clean ANZ Stadium. There were recoveries of $3,473 for 78 workers from one cleaning business at the Adelaide Oval, with the same cleaning business operating at the Gabba back-paying $743 for 51 workers. There was also $114 recovered for two cleaners from one business at GIO Stadium. Records reviewed showed no breaches at AAMI Park.

In response to the breaches, inspectors issued five Compliance Notices requiring employers to rectify failings. There were also two Infringement Notices issued for pay slip breaches (total fines of $4,200) as well as two contravention letters and two formal cautions.

Businesses can apply for certification of employment sites through the industry-led Cleaning Accountability Framework. The FWO’s online resources help businesses monitor their supply chains.

This article is part of a regular newsletter. If you wish to receive the newsletter providing information on the latest employee relations news and trends click here and use the “contact us” tab.

My business grows by referrals. I would appreciate it if you would pass my details on to your colleagues, clients or associates who could benefit from my skill set. Defending/Preventing unfair dismissals, policies and procedures, contracts of employment, codes of conduct and more…

I have developed a number of essential resources for people who manage people or advise people who manage people. These essential guides include: the latest Fair Work Information Statement; Is my employee covered by an award? Is my contractor an employee? Examination of the 21-day time limit for unfair dismissals and adverse action claims, Types of employment; report of managing employee risk; unfair dismissal checklist; mandatory employee records checklist; mandatory payslip requirements checklist; wage theft – do not get caught!

These are readily available at gregreiffelconsulting.com.au/resources or click on the following hyperlinks:

Fair-Work-Information-Statement 2020 V2 (Updated following the “Mondelez” decision in the High Court). Every new employee is required to be provided with this document under the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009.

Is my employee covered by an award (The Fair Work Ombudsman’s account of persons who are not covered by a modern award).You may be surprised by who is and who is not covered by an award.

Employee or Contractor? (Make sure that the “contractor”  you have engaged is not an “employee”.

Extending the 21-day time limit in the FWC. (Updated). When receiving an unfair dismissal or adverse action application, there are VERY strict rules on when the 21-day time limit can be extended.

Casual, temp, etc Special Report Ensure that you employ-right. Given recent Federal Court decisions relating to casuals and past decisions relating to temporary employees, should be read by all people who hire people.

Report on Managing Employee Risk. Managing people risk in your business.

Unfair Dismissal Checklist. Received an unfair dismissal or adverse action claim. Read this. Better still, read it BEFORE you dismiss an employee.

Employee Records checklist This is required under the provisions of the Fair Work Regulations 2009. Heavy fines apply for non-compliance. This is a simple checklist to ensure your business is compliant.

Payslips Checklist This is required under the provisions of the Fair Work Regulations 2009. Heavy fines apply for non-compliance. This is a simple checklist to ensure your business is compliant.

Free eBook – Wage Theft Essential reading for all businesses. Explains in simple terms the extensive powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman to prosecute businesses which underpay its employees.

The operator of the Uniting aged care homes is back-paying employees more than $3.3 million and has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking (DOCX 1.4MB) (PDF 7.9MB) with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW), a registered charity which runs more than 70 residential aged care facilities as well as other community services under the Uniting brand in NSW and the ACT, self-reported that it underpaid more than 9000 employees.

Uniting identified the underpayments when it conducted a review after receiving complaints from a number of its employees.

Many of the affected employees worked as front line carers and as community and disability services workers. They were covered by a number of different Enterprise Agreements.

The underpayments occurred as a result of errors made by Uniting in providing laundry, uniform and vehicle allowances as well as failing to provide shift workers an extra week of annual leave they were entitled to each year.

Uniting is back-paying 9561 workers a total of $3.36 million, which includes interest, for underpayments that occurred between 2013 and 2019. Individual underpayments range from less than $1 to more than $11,000.

While Uniting has already back-paid the majority of workers, the Enforceable Undertaking requires the organisation to pay any outstanding amounts to former employees by 15 August 2020, as well as a range of other obligations to ensure future compliance.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that an Enforceable Undertaking was appropriate as the organisation had cooperated with the investigation.

“Uniting demonstrated a strong commitment to rectifying all underpayments owed to its workers. The Enforceable Undertaking commits the aged care operator to stringent measures to protect its employees. This includes engaging, at its own cost, an expert auditing firm to conduct an independent assessment of the outcomes of its rectification program and to audit its compliance with workplace laws over the next two years,” Ms Parker said.

“This matter serves as a warning to all organisations that if you don’t prioritise workplace compliance, you risk underpaying staff on a large scale and face not only a massive administrative exercise calculating underpayments but the cost of a significant back-payment bill. Any employers who need help meeting their lawful workplace obligations should contact us.”

Under the Enforceable Undertaking, Uniting must also fund an independent organisation to operate a Hotline for the next four months that employees can use to make enquiries in relation to their entitlements, underpayments or related employment concerns.

Uniting is also required to display public, workplace and online notices detailing its workplace law breaches and apologise to workers.

This article is part of a regular newsletter. If you wish to receive the newsletter providing information on the latest employee relations news and trends click here and use the “Contact us” tab.

My business grows through referrals. I would appreciate it if you would pass my details on to your colleagues, clients, or associates who could benefit from my skill set. Defending/Preventing unfair dismissals, policies and procedures, contracts of employment, codes of conduct, and more…

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured $86,000 in penalties in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of two food outlets in northern Queensland for deliberately underpaying 18 workers, including teenagers.

The Court imposed a $70,000 penalty against Mashnicisa Pty Ltd, which operated the Buenavista Kuranda café at Kuranda, north-west of Cairns, and the ‘Donut Joint’ outlet in the Cairns suburb of Smithfield.

The Court also imposed a $16,000 penalty against company owner Maurice Arias. In addition, the Court has ordered Mashnicisa Pty Ltd and Mr Arias to back-pay the employees, plus interest.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker announced this week that improving workplace compliance in the fast food, restaurant and cafe sector continues to be a priority in the year ahead.

“Employers are on notice that they must pay all employees according to Australia’s lawful minimum pay rates and we will continue to take action to protect young workers, who can be particularly vulnerable if they are not aware of their workplace rights,” Ms Parker said.

“We will enforce the law in a proportionate matter during the COVID-19 pandemic but will not hesitate to take action in response to deliberate and egregious non-compliance, particularly where vulnerable workers are involved.”

Fair Work Inspectors investigated after receiving requests for assistance and found that 18 employees, including 11 juniors aged between 15 and 18 years old, were underpaid a total of $13,913.63 over a period of about three months in 2018. Individual underpayments range from $37.09 to $6034.26.

One worker was paid nothing for approximately four weeks’ work, while others were generally paid rates that were not sufficient to cover the weekend and public holiday penalty rates, overtime rates and evening loadings they were entitled to under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010.

One of the workers gave evidence that the underpayment left him unable to purchase university textbooks and a laptop for studying, while another gave evidence that she fell behind on her bills, including her credit card and loan payments, rent and household bills.

Mr Arias and Mashnicisa Pty Ltd also breached laws by failing to comply with a Notice to Produce issued by the FWO and by providing the FWO with false or misleading payroll documents. They also failed to provide new employees with a Fair Work Information Statement and breached record-keeping laws.

Judge Michael Jarrett found that the underpayments were deliberate, the use of false records demonstrated a “dishonest intention” on Mr Arias’s part and said he was not satisfied Mr Arias and his company had indicated an acceptance of wrongdoing or made a suitable credible expression of regret.

Judge Jarrett said there was a need to impose a penalty to deter others from similar conduct.

“It is important to send a message to other employers working within the fast food industry that non-compliance with the minimum standards, including the payment of overtime and penalty rates to junior staff, will not be tolerated,” Judge Jarrett said.

The Court also ordered Mr Arias and his company to commission independent audits of their compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009 and Fast Food Industry Award 2010 and provide the results to the FWO; display a workplace notice detailing employee workplace rights; and register with the

This article is part of a regular newsletter. If you wish to receive the newsletter providing information on the latest employee relations news and trends click here and use the “contact us” tab.

My business grows by referrals. I would appreciate it if you would pass my details on to your colleagues, clients or associates who could benefit from my skill set. Defending/Preventing unfair dismissals, policies and procedures, contracts of employment, codes of conduct and more…

Introduction

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured penalties of $177,174 against a Queensland construction company and its director after two young carpentry apprentices were underpaid $32,347.

Do not be this company. Read my FREE guide to employee underpayments here.

The Federal Circuit Court ordered a company director to pay penalties of $29,529 and his company to pay $147,645 for breaching the Fair Work Act.

The full-time apprentices, aged between 17 and 20 during the course of their employment, usually worked six days per week including overtime when working at construction sites between September 2013 and June 2015.

The Court found the company failed to pay a range of minimum entitlements owed under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010, including base rates for some ordinary hours, Saturday penalty rates, overtime rates, public holiday pay, annual and personal leave entitlements, safety net contractual entitlements and travel entitlements.

Mr Angus and his company also took adverse action by refusing to provide one apprentice work or pay for 11 weeks after he took two days of sick leave, despite providing a doctor’s certificate. The apprentice’s training contract required him to be provided with 38 hours’ work per week.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the penalties should send a clear message that exploitation of apprentices was unacceptable.

“It is unlawful for employers to take adverse action against a worker for exercising their workplace rights, such as taking sick leave, and we will consider enforcement action whenever this is found,” Ms Parker said.

“We also treat breaches involving young workers, including apprentices, particularly seriously as they are often vulnerable as they start their careers. Any young workers with concerns should contact us.”

The Court further found that laws relating to frequency-of-pay, record-keeping and pay slips were also breached. The company failed to provide any pay slips to one of the apprentices for 16 months.

Judge Gregory Egan said the contravening conduct was “deliberate” and “could not be viewed as isolated”.

“The contraventions were serious. They were committed against young and vulnerable employees,” Judge Egan said.

“The penalties imposed reflect the need for employers, and the persons controlling the employers, to recognise that the provisions of the [Fair Work Act] relating to the payment of employees must be obeyed.”

The company back paid the two apprentices after court action was commenced.