In the FWO's first "contrition payment" extracted from another federal public body, the ABC has agreed to pay $600,000 and enter into an enforceable undertaking after admitting it underpaid 1900 past and current employees more than $12 million.
The Federal Court has given the FWO permission to pursue a case that "raises matters of public importance with implications well beyond the parties" that involves a company, now in voluntary liquidation, that allegedly obstructed the watchdog's inspectors.
The Fair Work Ombudsman concedes it has been drawn into unfamiliar territory by a spate of multi-million dollar underpayments by large corporations, telling a parliamentary inquiry that policing systemic payroll non-compliance at companies like Woolworths, Qantas and Wesfarmers "does not sit easily" with its historic role.
The ASU has hit out at the FWO for letting Qantas off with a $390,500 "slap on the wrist" contrition fine for underpaying 640 misclassified head office workers by about $7.1 million, but the airline says its self-reported error also led to about $22 million in overpayments.
Service station owners who required a visa-dependent employee to hand over his tax refund and cover the cost of drive-offs have been ordered to compensate the former console operator and his fellow-worker wife more than $50,000 after a court found them accessorially liable for underpayments.
A judge has rebuked the FWO over its handling of a case brought against a silo manufacturer accused of underpaying two workers less than $13,000, observing that the "sorry saga" had "developed elephantiasis" and it was time it was brought to an end.