Melbourne company fined for failing to pay staff

A Melbourne-based company has been fined a total of $19,250 in the Federal Circuit Court and ordered to repay $6,105.23 in unpaid wages and entitlements including interest after being found to have underpaid five of its staff.

While the Fair Work Ombudsman is now responsible for investigation wage and entitlement matters, Fair Work Building and Construction initiated proceedings against Vic Metro Brick and Blocklaying Australia (VMA) in 2013.

In its case against VMA, FWBC claimed the companies had failed to pay wages and entitlements including travel allowance and annual leave to its employees.

In delivering her decision, Judge Riley found that three of the five affected workers were particularly vulnerable due to their status as foreign nationals.

“The second respondent (employer) required all the affected workers for cross-examination, including some from overseas via video link. There has been no indication of any apology to the affected workers and no indication of any effort to make amends,” Judge Riley said.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said employers must ensure they meet their obligations under the Fair Work Act at all times.

"This decision demonstrates how important it is for employers to make sure they pay their workers the appropriate wages and entitlements. Employers who fail to meet their obligations to staff can expect to be penalised with the Fair Work Ombudsman now responsible for all new wages and entitlement matters within the construction industry,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

Editor’s note: As of November 2013, the Fair Work Ombudsman assumed responsibility for pursuing wages and entitlements claims for construction industry participants.

FWBC will continue to oversee wages and entitlement matters that were on foot prior to November 2013, however all new matters are referred to the Fair Work Ombudsman for investigation

In the 2014/15 financial year, FWBC made a total of 478 referrals to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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