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Record fine for failure to keep time and wage record

Two companies and their directors associated with a Perth café have been ordered by the Federal Magistrates Court to pay a total of $28,820 in fines after failing to keep proper employment records for three 457 visa workers who were not paid for months at a time.

The respondents admitted breaching workplace laws by being involved in failing to keep proper employment records for the three employees and failing to issue them pay slips and pleaded they were ignorant to their obligations.

Federal Magistrate Toni Lucev rejected this, saying the “...respondents’ plea of ignorance rests uneasily with the somewhat sophisticated property, corporate and employment arrangements entered into by the respondents”.

The lack of basic time and wage records prevented Fair Work inspectors from determining whether the workers had been underpaid.

Nonetheless, Federal Magistrate Lucev said the evidence indicated there was a failure to pay some of the employees for several months at a time resulting in the need for back-payments of up to $11,000.

Accepting the Fair Work Ombudsman’s contention that the respondents “had the benefit of free labour for a significant period of time”, Federal Magistrate Lucev said this was “not an insignificant aggravating factor when assessing the penalty” to be imposed against the respondents.
 
Federal Magistrate Lucev said there was also a need to deter the respondents from re-offending as each of them continued to operate at a corporate and individual level.

The penalties in this case are among the highest the Fair Work Ombudsman has secured for a case solely involving record-keeping and pay slip breaches.

KEY POINTS: The case highlights the importance of keeping proper employment records for all workers. Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), employers have specific obligations in relation to time and wage records and payslips.  Failure to comply with these obligations may lead to prosecution and imposition of penalties as was the result in this case.

Mark Bunch is a Partner of Aitken Legal, a law firm specialising in employment law for employers. (07 5593 1665 or mark.bunch@aitkenlegal.com.au) The information in this article is intended as a guide only.  Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Click here for more details on this case or contact Aitken Legal
 


Author: Lynne Brook, Brook Personnel - Article compliments of Aitken Legal