Cleaning business operator faces court

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operator of a Newcastle cleaning business.

Facing court is Michael James Henshaw, a sole trader operating Spit and Polish Professional Cleaning.

The regulator began an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from a former part-time employee who worked for the Merewether-based business between January and October 2019.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Mr Henshaw in January 2021 after forming a belief that the cleaner had not been fully paid wages and annual leave entitlements, including leave loading, she was owed under the Cleaning Services Award 2010 when her employment terminated.

The FWO alleges Mr Henshaw, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice which required him to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements.

The FWO made several attempts to secure voluntary compliance with the Compliance Notice before commencing legal proceedings.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Under the Fair Work Act, Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors if they form a belief that an employer has breached workplace laws,” Ms Parker said.

“Where employers do not comply with our requests, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”

Mr Henshaw faces penalties of up to $6,660.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a court order for Mr Henshaw to take the action the Compliance Notice requires, which includes calculating and rectifying any underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on 27 May 2021.

Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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