In a recent article in the Courier Mail, it has been reported that the Fair Work Ombudsman is to launch a crackdown on “horrible bosses” who exploit foreign students. A business owner should therefore be careful to pay employees strictly according to applicable awards and agreements or statutory minimums.
We have a number of clients who have now allegedly contravened provisions of the Fair Work Act with regards to payments and entitlements.
It is often not easy to work out whether your employees are covered by a certain award or what the rate should be. It may potentially save thousands of dollars to obtain correct advice as early as possible so that businesses are not exposed to the penalty provisions of the Fair Work Act.
Quite often, when the Ombudsman has filed proceedings against alleged perpetrators in the Federal Court, they publish details of the allegations on their website.
These publications are within minutes picked up by the regular media and plastered all over the internet. The consequences are that the reputations of previously well regarded business are tarnished so that the goodwill, which existed in the business, evaporates within hours.
If this happens to you, you will need legal advice as to whether you are able to launch injunctive proceedings against the Fair Work Ombudsman and/or sue them for damages.
Although the Fair Work Ombudsman does have an obligation to inform and educate the general public, these powers are limited and may not be used to intimidate or harass you. Contempt of Court may also be an issue.
We at Stephens & Tozer are well placed to assist you with any issues you may have regarding payment of entitlements of your employees or if the Fair Work Ombudsman comes knocking on your door.
Similarly, we are able to advise employees about their entitlements.
Harry Jordaan, Senior Associate in our commercial litigation team, is an accredited specialist in commercial litigation and has practiced as a litigator for more than 35 years in three jurisdictions. Harry has a keen interest in employment law and brings with him a wealth of experience in these types of disputes. Should you require assistance in respect of an employment matter, contact our team at Stephens & Tozer.
16 February 2018