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Employer and Director Heavily Fined

The Federal Circuit Court has relied upon the recently-introduced “protecting vulnerable workers” legislation to impose a heavy penalty on a company and its director who underpaid an apprentice employee and failed to keep time and wages records.

The new “protecting vulnerable workers” legislation:

  • increased penalties by up to 10 times for serious contraventions
  • strengthened the Fair Work Ombudsman’s evidence gathering powers
  • reversed the evidentiary onus in underpayment claims where employers fail to make and keep time and wages records

In FWO v Pulis Plumbing Pty Ltd & Anor:

  • the employer underpaid an apprentice employee by almost $27,000
  • the employer was unable to explain why it underpaid the apprentice or why it failed to keep time and wages records for the apprentice’s hours of work
  • in the absence of such records the Federal Circuit Court relied upon detailed records kept by the apprentice of his working hours
  • the company’s contained refusal to pay the apprentices wages was stated to be ‘nothing short of avarice’
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