'Those who rely on an unlawful ‘going rate’ can be left with a major back-payment bill,' the FWO said
A petrol company and three members of its management are facing legal action from the Fair Work Ombudsman over allegations it had underpaid staff over $62,000.
Westside Petroleum Retail 1 allegedly owed 22 employees, including one who was missing nearly $8,000 in pay. The workers who filed the complaint were assigned to 12 petrol stations, operated directly by Westside, across New South Wales from July 2015 to May 2016, according to the FWO.
“It is alleged that service station workers were underpaid from $347 to $7,772, with four of the employees aged just 19,” the FWO said. “Two affected workers were visa holders with one employee on a 489 regional sponsored visa.”
Westside reportedly told employees they would receive $18 per hour, well below the weekday rate of $25.05 and weekend rate of $32.56. It also allegedly missed payments of overtime and casual public holiday rates.
The company underwent auditing by the FWO at the request of the workers, said Ombudsman Sandra Parker.
“It is unlawful for employers to pay their employees low, flat rates that undercut minimum award wage rates,” the Ombudsman said. “[Those] who rely on an unlawful ‘going rate’ can be left with a major back-payment bill and face significant penalties.”
The Ombudsman stressed the FWO has “no tolerance for the underpayment of any workers” and urged employees concerned about their pay to consult with the FWO for free.
Westside may be fined a maximum penalty of $54,000 per contravention.
Apart from the company, three senior staff members – including a general manager, area manager, and accountant – will also face charges for their alleged involvement in the scheme, with a penalty of $10,800 per contravention.