The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recovered $389,982 in unpaid wages for 163 security guards in Queensland after investigating 19 security businesses in the state between September 2019 and July 2020 in the wake of reports that some guards may have been incorrectly engaged as independent contractors rather than employees.
The FWO found that 10 of the audited businesses (53 per cent) were non-compliant. Nine of these businesses failed to pay workers correctly and two breached record-keeping and payslip laws.
The most common breaches involved those related to underpayments of weekend penalty rates and the minimum rate for ordinary hours, though no evidence of sham contracting was discovered.
“Too often we have found employees being underpaid in the security industry and we will continue to monitor the sector and act to ensure that lawful wages are put in workers’ pockets,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman is aware that many security guards are visa holders or from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds, which can make them more vulnerable to breaches of their workplace rights.”
Inspectors issued 11 Compliance Notices requiring nine employers to rectify breaches of the law, resulting in the $389,982 in back-payments by eight businesses to 163 affected employees. One of the Compliance Notice matters remains to be resolved at this time.
Recoveries from individual businesses ranged from $357,275 for 136 workers from a north Queensland business to $102 for one worker from a Brisbane business.
The identified businesses were also put on notice such that any future breaches they commit may result in higher-level enforcement action.
In addition, inspectors also issued two Infringement Notices resulting in payments of fines totalling $420.