A Fair Work Ombudsman litigation has led to the back-payment of some $19,000 in wages to the estate of an underpaid Brisbane worker who passed away three years ago. In addition, fines totalling $53,460 have also been leveled against the operators of the business.
New Image Photographics Pty Ltd, a company engaged in portrait photography, underpaid the casual employee $19,314 when she performed telemarketing and administrative duties between 2006 and 2009. After lodging a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman, the employee, aged in her 60s, passed away in 2010.
The Fair Work Ombudsman continued to pursue the matter at her husband’s request and launched litigation proceedings last year after the company failed to rectify the underpayment. In addition, the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane fined New Image Photographics $42,900 and fined the company’s majority owner and sole director, Bryan Charles Bedington, a further $10,560.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman, Michael Campbell, said the case illustrated the commitment to full lawful entitlements for work performed. “Receiving lawful minimum wages for work performed is a fundamental right for every worker and this case illustrates the lengths that the staff of the Fair Work Ombudsman will go to ensure that occurs,” Campbell said. “We will not tolerate employers significantly underpaying employees’ wages and then failing to promptly rectify the matter once it is brought to their attention,” he added.
In his judgment, Judge Michael Jarrett said a clear message needed to be sent to employers that underpayment of wages and entitlements is unacceptable. “It is imperative that the correct entitlements for employees be paid and that steps be taken by all employers, irrespective of the size of their enterprise, to properly ascertain and comply with minimum statutory requirements,” he said.