The FWO's costly pursuit of a cleaning company over inadvertent underpayments of $5200 over a nine-month period has drawn fire from a judge who questioned the "limited need for deterrence" in a case where Fair Work Act objectives could have been met through enforceable undertakings.
An employer could face a ninefold increase in fines ordered by the Federal Circuit Court after the FWO successfully appealed the judgment on the basis that it wrongly grouped contraventions as a single course of action.
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.
The meatworkers' union has released an explosive "black market labour investigation" that accuses a meat processing company, a regional local government authority and labour suppliers of working together to exploit temporary migrants on working holiday visas rather than employ locals.
The husband and wife team behind a cleaning business have been hit with a record $510,840 penalty for underpaying three Taiwanese working holiday visa holders $11,500, a Federal Circuit Court judge dismissing concerns about their ability to pay despite an outstanding bill of $343,000 from a previous prosecution for identical contraventions.
United Voice is today staging a protest outside a Melbourne restaurant at the centre of a bartender's underpayments claim and says its investigation of the state's hospitality sector exposes the city as the "wage theft capital of Australia".
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.
After entering into an FWO compliance partnership that commits it to taking responsibility for underpayments across its trolley collection network for the past three years, Woolworths says it would welcome working with any regulatory body to ensure workers in all supply chains are paid correctly.
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.