Disability services organisation penalised

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured court orders for a total of $37,397 in penalties and back-payment against the operators of a disability services company in Perth.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $17,000 penalty against Sunflower Care Services Pty Ltd, which provides care services to people with a disability in residential settings in WA, and a $3,500 penalty against the company’s sole owner and director, Joseph Karunarathna.

The penalties were imposed in response to Sunflower Care Services failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to back-pay entitlements to six employees it engaged as support workers between 2015 and 2020. Mr Karunarathna was involved in the contravention.

In addition to imposing the penalties, the Court has ordered Sunflower Care Services to back-pay two of the workers a total of $16,897 still owing to them, plus interest and superannuation.

Sunflower Care Services has previously back-paid the other four workers a total of more than $63,000. The company must also back-pay superannuation entitlements still owed to one of these workers.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Mr Campbell said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The FWO commenced an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from one of the affected workers.

The Compliance Notice was issued in November 2020 after an inspector formed a belief that the six workers had been underpaid minimum wages and entitlements under the Social, Community and Disability Services Industry Equal Remuneration Order 2012; the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 and the Fair Work Act 2009.

The six workers included a visa holder from India and a visa holder from Ireland.

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