An FWC full bench has refused the CEPU leave to appeal a ROC decision on financial reporting deadlines, holding that the "real purpose" of the union's case was to avoid potential penalties for failing to meet its statutory obligations.
The ramifications of recent legislative changes requiring employers to disprove employees' records of hours worked in wage claim cases have been spelt out in a court decision imposing penalties of more than $120,000 on a company and its director for underpaying an apprentice.
In a ruling that underlines the Fair Work Ombudsman's pursuit of accessorial liability against advisors, a court has for the first time imposed a fine on an accountancy firm involved in an employer's underpayments.
In the FWO's first underpayment prosecution relying on race discrimination prohibitions in the Fair Work Act, a court has found a Tasmanian hotel and its manager deliberately short-changed a head chef and kitchen hand and expected them to work long hours, six days a week because of their Malaysian nationality and Chinese race.
The HSU says it is unlikely to pursue former national secretary and ex-Labor MP Craig Thomson for the repayment of about $378,000 because it would incur further legal costs with little chance of recovering the money.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says low penalties are creating a "perverse incentive" for a "dangerous minority" of employers to use inaccurate or incomplete records to conceal underpayments, forcing the watchdog to use novel, labour-intensive strategies to piece together employees' working hours.
As a court fines a regional café more than $500,000 for exploiting overseas workers and the FWO pursues two other cafes for unlawful "cash-back" schemes, Ombudsman Natalie James has welcomed the Federal Government's commitment to introducing laws to prohibit such arrangements.