Accounting firm in court for leaving workers in the lurch over sale

ATO protecting honest businesses, unfair contract terms

A former operator of a Sydney accounting firm is set to face the Federal Circuit Court over alleged nonpayment of entitlements when they sold the business.

The company, UHY Sothertons Sydney Pty Ltd, is alleged to have not paid out the leave benefits of its four employees despite the terms of the sale agreement clear stating that these payments were their responsibility.

A Fair Work inspector issued a Compliance Notice after determining that the employees had not been paid their accrued but untaken annual leave. The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges that the accounting firm then failed to comply with that said notice, which required that it calculate and back-pay the owed entitlements to the employees.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker reiterated her office’s commitment to continue enforcing workplace laws despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Under the Fair Work Act, Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors if they form a belief that an employer has breached workplace laws,” Parker said.

“Where employers do not comply with a Compliance Notice, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can then order them to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers. Any employees with concerns about their pay should contact us for assistance.”.

UHY Sothertons Sydney Pty Ltd faces up to $31,500 in penalties if found guilty. In addition, the FWO is also seeking a Court Order requiring UHY Sothertons Sydney to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying underpayments in full, along with superannuation and interest.

A hearing on this matter is scheduled in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on 16 July 2020.