Construction business in court

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the former operator of a construction business in Glenburn, a town north-east of Melbourne.

Facing court is Westbridge Constructions (VIC) Pty Ltd.

The regulator investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a former worker who was employed as a full-time carpentry apprentice by Westbridge Constructions from August 2018 to February 2020.

The employee was aged 19 at the start of his employment period.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to the company in October 2020 after forming a belief the worker had not been paid entitlements owed under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 and the Fair Work Act 2009.

The inspector formed a belief the employee was underpaid minimum rates for ordinary hours, overtime rates and annual leave entitlements.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Westbridge Constructions, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required the company to calculate and back-pay the worker’s outstanding entitlements.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and take business operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, 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,” Ms Parker said.

The FWO is seeking a penalty. Westbridge Constructions (VIC) Pty Ltd faces a maximum penalty of $33,300 for failing to comply with the Compliance Notice.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a court order for the company to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, including calculating and rectifying any underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 15 September 2021.

Employers and employees can visit 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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