HC went through the archives to find the highest fines dispensed to companies found to be breaching workplace laws. The fines all relate to pay-based disputes, and do not include backpay awarded.
7 September: $343,860
A cleaning company and its manager were fined for deliberately underpaying six cleaners, including five foreign workers. The underpaid cleaners were aged 20s and 30s, with the foreign nationals originating from Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Ireland; three of them spoke little English.
The company - Housekeeping - was fined $286,550 while business manager Catherine Paino-Povey was fined an additional $57,310.
“There are very serious consequences for deliberate exploitation of foreign workers in Australia,” Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said.
29 July: $286,704
Private transport company Happy Cabby displayed “wilful blindness” of workplace laws, engaging in sham contracting that resulted in seven employees being underpaid.
Graeme Thomas Paff, sole company director, admitted to misclassifying seven shuttle bus drivers as independent contractors as opposed to employees.
Paff himself was charged $47,784, while Happy Cabby was fined an additional $238,920.
The decision was reached in part due to the previous determinations by the Australian Taxation Office and an Administrative Appeals Tribunal both classifying the workers as employees, leaving little doubt that Paff was aware of the correct classifications and wilfully ignored them.
2 August: $180,000
Kzuhiro Kojima and Zhicheng Zhang, operators of four Japanese restaurants in Launceston were fined for underpaying 50 of their workers, many of whom were young foreign workers.
Some of the workers spoke little English, with a number being international students. They were paid flat rates between $5 and $10 an hour - resulting in significant underpayments to base rates as well as penalty rates for weekend, evening and public holiday work. Further pay slip and record-keeping laws were also breached.
Kojima and Zhang were fined $27,984 each, while their company — Bento Kings Meadows — was fined $122,960.
19 August 2013: $161,700
Homeware retailer Metro Northern Enterprises wrongfully hired four workers as independent contractors instead of employees, resulting in over $10,000 in underpayments.
For this breach of sham contracting laws, the organisation was fined $161,700. FWO found that the employees were paid as contractors despite being required to attend work and perform duties as directed by the company which they determined were characteristics of full-time employment.
19 April: $166,848
Produce store operator Fuller & Sons was fined for sham contracting and underpayments.
Employees were paid flat hourly rates, resulting in underpayment to their casual/holiday loadings and weekend penalty rates - as well as overtime and public holiday work. Two employees were also misclassified as independent contractors.
The organisation was fined $139,040 while company director Eric Andrew Fuller was fined an additional $27,808.
Fair Work inspectors discovered the breaches following complaints from employees.
As the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) audit of Australian companies continues,