Perth mat manufacturer faces court

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against a Perth manufacturer of custom-fit floor, boot and cargo mats for vehicles.

Facing court is Matcraft Pty Ltd, which operates in the inner suburb of Carlisle, and owner-operators husband and wife Paul and Leanne Ruthenberg.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated after an employee lodged a request for assistance.

A Fair Work inspector issued a Compliance Notice after forming a belief that the employee, a sewing machinist, had not been paid any wages for his work between July 2017 and June 2019, in breach of the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010.

The regulator alleges that the company, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice. The notice required the employer to calculate and back-pay entitlements owing to the employee.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that the regulator will continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes continuing to 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.”

“Where employers do not comply with FWO notices, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order the business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” Ms Parker said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”

Matcraft Pty Ltd faces a penalty of up to $31,500 from the Court, while Mr Ruthenberg and Ms Ruthenberg each face a penalty of up to $6,300.

The FWO is also seeking a Court Order requiring Matcraft to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Perth on 28 July 2020.

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