The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured $13,100 in penalties in court against the operators of an IT services business in Melbourne.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $10,900 penalty against The Backup Bloke Pty Ltd, which is based in Moorabbin, and an additional $2,200 penalty against company director Paul Loiacono.
The penalties were imposed in response to the company breaching the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to back-pay an employee.
The Backup Bloke Pty Ltd back-paid the worker the $65,450 it had underpaid him only after the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker 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,” Ms Parker said.
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated after receiving a request for assistance from a worker who had been employed by The Back-up Bloke as a salesperson and service technician.
A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to The Backup Bloke in September 2020 after forming a belief that, due to being paid only sporadically, the worker was owed 107 weeks of unpaid wages under the General Retail Industry Award 2010 for work performed between 2015 and 2019, as well as annual leave entitlements.
Judge Karl Blake found that The Backup Bloke had intentionally not paid the worker what he was owed and had deliberately failed to comply with the Compliance Notice.
Judge Blake found there was “a need to send a message to employers large and small about the importance of meeting obligations owed to employees and the need to comply with Compliance Notices”.
“Quite frankly, recent history demonstrates that there are serious issues across many industries concerning underpayment of employees. Employers must understand the importance of paying employees correctly,” Judge Blake said.