Former convenience store operator penalised

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured court orders for more than $30,000 in penalties and back-payment against the former owner of two convenience stores in the Adelaide CBD.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $16,039.80 penalty against Sydney man Ethan Okili, the former director of two companies trading as City Convenience stores located at 3 Rundle Mall and 132 Grenfell Street.

The penalty was imposed in response to Mr Okili’s involvement in the failure by his two companies which operated the respective stores to comply with three Compliance Notices and to issue pay slips.

The Compliance Notices required the back-payment of entitlements to workers who worked at the two City Convenience stores.

In addition to the penalty, the Court has ordered Mr Okili to pay $15,220.71 in outstanding entitlements owed to an underpaid worker, who had been employed as a casual retail assistant.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully 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 Scully said.

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

The FWO commenced an investigation into the companies operating the two City Convenience stores after receiving a request for assistance from one of the workers.

The Compliance Notices were issued in 2019 after an inspector formed a belief that workers had been underpaid minimum wage rates, overtime rates and penalty rates for weekend, evening and public holiday work under the General Retail Industry Award 2010 for work performed between November 2018 and August 2019.

Judge Stewart Brown described the contraventions as serious and found that there was a need to impose penalties to deter others from similar conduct.

“It is important employers recognise that Compliance Notices are significant and are thus encouraged to manage their businesses so that errors, including innocent ones, can be rectified quickly and cheaply for the benefit of both business and employee,” Judge Brown said.

The two companies which received the Compliance Notices went into liquidation after the court action commenced.

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