Court action against two Queensland companies could result in large fines.
FWO seeks penalties for bookkeeper ‘owed thousands in backpay’
The FWO has begun legal action against two Queensland companies for underpaying workers – including a bookkeeper – and seeks penalties of around $40,000 apiece plus substantial backpay entitlements.
Polyfone Telecom Pty Ltd, a Gold Coast company that supplies to schools and businesses, and its sole director Paul Desmond Wallace face court after the regulator was asked for help from a full-time bookkeeper who worked there between December 2014 and September 2020.
The worker was owed more than 600 hours of accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements on termination, as well as personal leave and superannuation entitlements, according to an FWO investigation.
It is alleged that Polyfone Telecom has partially back-paid the worker but that $28,120.80 remains owing under the Telecommunications Services Award 2020 and the National Employment Standards.
Polyfone Telecom failed to act on a compliance notice issued in February 2021 that required it to pay the worker’s entitlements, it is alleged, and Mr Wallace was involved in the contravention.
Polyfone Telecom faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Wallace a penalty of up to $6,660.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Brisbane on 15 August 2022.
A second Queensland company facing court is Ipswich-based BGSZO Pty Ltd, which trades as Up Dog Diesel, and its sole director and owner Dwane Johnson.
The company, which supplies tyre maintenance and fitting services to the mining industry, is alleged to have failed to pay a worker for untaken leave owed under the National Employment Standards at the end of his employment.
The regulator investigated after receiving a request for assistance from the worker, who was employed as a tyre fitter at the company between April 2020 and April 2021.
BGSZO failed to act on a compliance notice issued in July 2021, which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s entitlements. It is alleged Mr Johnson was involved in the contravention.
The FWO seeks penalties of up to $33,300 against the company and $6,660 against Mr Johnson plus rectification of the alleged underpayments in full, plus interest.
The matter is currently before the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Brisbane.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses 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,” Ms Parker said.
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”