Bundaberg transport firm fined $80,000 over worker pay


FWO says prosecution comes after complaints from other workers

Bundaberg transport firm fined $80,000 over worker pay
The FWO says it hopes the fine acts as a "deterrent" to others

 

A Queensland-based transport company has been handed an $80,000 fine by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for underpaying an employee more than $11,000 over a nine-month period.

Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport carries refrigerated farm produce across Australia, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

The Federal Circuit Court found that, between October 2014 and July 2015, it had paid an employee a flat hourly rate of $23, despite her being entitled to ordinary hourly rates of up to $26.09 as a casual employee, up to $41.74 for overtime and weekend work, and up to $52.18 on public holidays.

Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport had also:

  • underpaid the worker’s annual leave entitlements
  • failed to provide the employee with the terms of her employment in writing
  • failed to provide a Fair Work Information Statement when she commenced work
  • previously been investigated following requests from other workers.

The Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport case originally surfaced in February. Read more, here


Judge Salvatore Vasta says the hefty fine was intended to deter other companies from doing the same thing and that the offence "must be seen in a very serious light".

"I am still of the view that there is no excuse for a failure to comply with one's own document, and in that respect, the breaches were deliberate," Vasta says.

"There has still been no apology for, to use the vernacular, ripping off an employee over that nine-month period.

"Deterrence will only occur if the penalty is such that it not only tells this respondent that such conduct is totally against what our society stands for, but allows others who are in the same position as the respondent company to think twice before failing to honour their obligations under the FW Act," Judge Vasta said.

The FWO notes the company has fully back-paid the employee and has been ordered to make hard copies of its enterprise agreement at its premises, and to display workplace notices containing information about employee entitlements and FWO contact details.

ATN has sought comment from Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport.

 

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