The Federal Circuit Court has levelled a $75,000 fine and is expected to order more than $25,000 in compensation against the director of a liquidated supermarkets enterprise who withheld about $450,000 in union dues, superannuation and Easter rates from more than 200 employees.
Woolworths says it will train head contractors on their IR obligations, require all cleaning contractors to use a third-party payroll system and increase its auditing, after an FWO investigation revealed the retailer contributed to a culture of non-compliance in its Tasmanian cleaning supply chain.
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.