Employer fined for shoddy IFAs

by 04 Oct 2011
For the first time in Australia, a Gold Coast employer has been fined $30,000 for attempting to force workers to forego their penalty rights for overtime on weekends and public holidays.
The Australian Shooting Academy (ASA) based in Surfers Paradise was taken to federal court by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), after six employees were asked to sign Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFA) which effectively removed many of their entitlements.
However Justice John Logan found ASA had breached workplace laws, fining the company $25,000 and an additional $5,000 to the company director.
Although five of the six employees involved in the IFA case had signed the contracts, the judge overruled the IFA’s, and said they had been signed as a result of undue pressure and coercion.
He added that workplace provisions were breached when one employee signed the IFA after being told there would be no further work available if he did not sign the contract.
Another employee who refused to sign the IFA, and was terminated as a result, was awarded $7,146 in compensation.
A spokesperson for the Fair Work Ombudsman said it is the first time in Australia that it had taken legal action over alleged IFA contraventions.
The court noted it is unlawful for employers to force employees to agree to an IFA and it is unlawful to make an IFA a condition of employment.
The office of FWO has a comprehensive guide available on its website explaining the use of individual flexibility arrangements.

This guide explains how employers (and employees) can use IFAs to create flexible work practices that enhance productivity and job satisfaction, and explains:

  • ‘Flexibility terms’ in enterprise agreements
  • Modern awards under which IFAs can be made
  • The effect of an IFA
  • How to make an IFA
  • What can be included in an IFA
  • What happens if an IFA is not made properly, and
  • How an IFA ends

 

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