Trucking business penalised for underpaying driver

trucking, late payments

An operator of a long-haul trucking business that transports goods interstate has been penalised by the Federal Circuit Court for the underpayment of a former driver.

The penalty of $21,500 was imposed on Sapphire Freighters Pty Ltd. after it failed to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring the back-payment of entitlements to the driver who worked fro the company from December 2016 to January 2018.

A Fair Work Inspector originally issued the Compliance Notice in December 2019 after forming a belief that the company paid a rate of pay per kilometre that was less than required under the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010, throughout the driver’s employment, and failed to pay an allowance to compensate the employee for taking rest breaks away from home.

The FWO also alleged in the Compliance Notice that Sapphire Freighters breached the Fair Work Act by failing to pay out accrued annual leave on termination of the driver’s employment.

On top of the penalty, the Court ordered Sapphire Freighters to calculate and back-pay the approximately $6000 in outstanding entitlements owed to the truck driver, plus superannuation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of their back-payments.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure hard-working employees receive their lawful entitlements,” Parker said.

In a written penalty judgement, Judge Patrizia Mercuri said, “There is no evidence of any contrition, corrective action or cooperation with the authorities in this case. Quite the contrary. There is also a strong need for general deterrence particularly in the Road Freight Transport industry which has significant rates of non-compliance with workplace laws.”