Fair Work Ombudsman ordered regional employer to pay $795k to 83 workers

by HCA28 Jun 2016
Employers having trouble paying their employees could do better by working with the Fair Work Ombudsman rather than against it.

The reminder comes after a regional employer reimbursed 83 workers a total of $795,000, after accepting assistance from the Ombudsman.

The factory workers on the NSW Mid-North Coast, employed by W.E. Smith Engineering at Boambee, were underpaid for nine months during 2015 as the engineering firm weathered cash flow problems and delays in being paid.

W.E. Smith went into voluntary administration and initially underwent Fair Work Commission dispute resolution hearings with the Manufacturing Workers’ Union, over unpaid wages and entitlements. The Fair Work Ombudsman then issued the company with a Compliance Notice in February 2016 requiring the back-payment of outstanding entitlements.

"We have a flexible and fair approach when employers are willing to co-operate with us to ensure these issues don’t occur in the future."

W.E. Smith worked with the Ombudsman and agreed to back-pay all workers in full – the largest amount owed to an individual being $26,150.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said it was encouraging to see W.E. Smith accept assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman to reimburse all money owed.

"We have a flexible and fair approach when employers are willing to co-operate with us to ensure these issues don’t occur in the future," she said.
She said ensuring staff are paid their correct wages on time is one of the most fundamental workplace obligations for an employer.

"We have, and always will, pursue the employer when we find cases of non-compliance," Ms James said. "Employees should not be put in a position where they may struggle to pay their bills because they haven’t been paid the correct wages on time."

The Agency recovers millions of dollars each year through the voluntarily resolution of workplace issues, including unpaid wages.
Last financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman received more than 25,000 requests for assistance and recovered more than $22.3 million via all methods of resolution.

 

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