Enforcement and guidance — news

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Enforcement and guidance — news

Motel facing court over records, 12 get $48,000 in back-pay; Toys“R”Us facing prosecution for $445k in underpayments; Leading your organisation effectively in 2010 — Sydney conference.

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Motel facing court over records, 12 get $48,000 in back-pay; Toys“R”Us facing prosecution for $445k in underpayments; Leading your organisation effectively in 2010 — Sydney conference.
 
Motel facing court over records, 12 get $48,000 in back-pay
 
The operator of a NSW north coast motel is facing prosecution for failing to provide the Fair Work Ombudsman with staff employment records, and 12 workers in South Australia have received $48,000 in underpayments they didn’t know they were owed.
 
Facing court is Ballina Island Resort Pty Ltd, which operates the Ballina Island Motor Inn, and company director-manager Matthew Robert Laurie.
 
As part of routine activity, Fair Work inspectors attempted to audit Ballina Island Resort last year to check employees were being paid correctly.
 
Ignored requests
 
Documents lodged in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney allege that the company ignored numerous requests from inspectors for time-and-wages records and other documents.
 
Under workplace laws, employers must keep employment records for employees and former employees and provide them to Fair Work inspectors upon request.
 
Ballina Island Resort also allegedly failed to issue payslips to all employees.
 
Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell said it will be alleged in court that the company is either deliberately withholding the records — or has none.
 
Ballina Island Resort and Laurie have allegedly each committed two breaches of workplace laws. The maximum penalty per breach is $33,000 for the company and $6600 for Mr Laurie.
 
The case is listed for mention on 19 February.
 
Surprise bonus
 
Meanwhile, 12 workers at a business on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula have received a surprise bonus in their pay packets.
 
The employees had been inadvertently underpaid, but did not know it.
 
The discovery was made when the Fair Work Ombudsman randomly audited the employer and found the company had been accidentally short-changing its staff.
 
Fair Work inspectors found the company had misinterpreted the relevant Award and was not paying the appropriate penalty rates.
 
As a result, the workers have been reimbursed more than $48,000 — an average of $4000 each.
 
Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says because the employer has cooperated and voluntarily rectified the issue, it will face no further action.
 
However, Mr Campbell says the company has been encouraged to regularly check it has the most up-to-date information on wages and conditions for its workforce.
 
 
Toys“R”Us facing prosecution for $445k in underpayments
 
Between 2007 and 2009, Toys“R”Us committed more than 20 contraventions of workplace laws, leaving no fewer than 700 staff underpaid, alleges the Fair Work Ombudsman, who is now prosecuting the retail giant.
 
Most of the affected staff had been engaged on a casual basis and were under 25, including many under the age of 18.
 
The Ombudsman says the company’s ‘invalid‘ workplace agreements failed either the fairness test or no-disadvantage test because they had prescribed ‘insufficient’ pay rates allowing workers to be underpaid with regards to minimum the casual hourly rate and penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and night shifts.
 
Even though Toys“R”Us reimbursed its workers a total of $445,000 in March 2009, the Fair Work Ombudsman says that the company failed to back pay the underpaid workers within the required timeframe, with many having to wait up to nine months to receive outstanding entitlements.
 
Procedural requirements
 
The Ombudsman also alleges that Toys“R”Us failed to meet procedural requirements, with a number of agreements non-compliant with one or more matters relating to how they had to be signed, approved by the employer and employee, dated, witnessed and lodged.
 
The company faces a maximum penalty of $33,000 for each breach proven during the case, which will begin its hearing in the Federal Magistrates Court on 1 February.
 
 
Leading your organisation effectively in 2010 — Sydney conference
 
The 2010 Australian Workplace Conference is coming up in March. The conference is organised by the Workplace Research Centre from the University of Sydney.
 
Details are:
Conference: Australian Workplace Conference — Leading your organisation effectively in 2010
 
Date: 31 March 2010.
 
Venue: Citigate Central Sydney, 169–179 Thomas St, Haymarket.
 
Price: $600 early bird until 28 February. $750 early bird rate + accommodation (King or Twin Room) at Citigate Central Hotel (accommodation normally $189) if you book before the 31 January. $795 full price. $250 — academic/student price.
The theme of this year's conference is ‘Leading your organisation effectively in 2010’.
 
It will bring together leading commentators and policy makers from industry, government agencies, academia and the labour movement to discuss the challenges workplaces face in leading their workplaces effectively in 2010.
 
Some of the topics discussed on the day will include: Positioning your workplace for the medium term; Workforce Futures: Outlook for 2020; Emerging approaches to recruiting, developing + retaining staff; The Economy and Labour Market Outlook for 2010; and Navigating through Workplace Relations in 2010.
 
Speakers
 
Speakers confirmed to date:
  • Robin Shreeve, CEO, Skills Australia
  • Peter Anderson, chief executive, Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Mark Polglaze, executive director human resources, GM Holden Ltd
  • Alisa Hall, acting executive director/project manager, Qld Health Skills Formation Strategy
  • Kevin Kennedy, managing director (ex officio), Apprenticeships Group Australia
  • John Buchanan, director, Workplace Research Centre
  • Linda Scott, senior research analyst, Workplace Research Centre
More information and bookings
 
For more information and conference bookings, click here
 
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