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An electrical services business based in Brisbane has been penalised $12,500 by the Federal Circuit Court for underpaying three former employees. The court imposed a $10,000 penalty against Sphere 38 (BNE) Pty Ltd and a $2500 penalty against company director Gregory Dale Johnston.
Fair Work Inspectors investigated Sphere 38 in 2020 and issued a Compliance Notice when it determined that the employees, all full-time electricians, had not been paid their untaken annual leave entitlements upon finishing their employment.
However, the company and Johnson failed to act on the Notice, which prompted the court action and subsequent ruling.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker reminded companies that fail to act on Compliance Notices that they will face court-imposed penalties in addition to having to back-pay underpaid staff.
“We make every effort to secure voluntary compliance with Compliance Notices but where they are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive all their lawful entitlements,” Parker said.
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”
Judge Gregory Egan found that the matter involved a “blatant” breach of workplace law and noted the three employees, who were cumulatively owed a total of $8434.11, were back-paid only after the FWO commenced legal action.
“Such intentional failure to comply with a mandatory notice only after such time that the applicant commenced litigation ought to be reflected in the penalty imposed, in order to appropriately uphold the principle of general deterrence,” Judge Egan said.