In May 2020, we reported that the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) had commenced prosecution in the Federal Court against Althaus Homes Pty Ltd (Althaus), and its sole director, Mr Ronald Alexander Althaus.
The matter progressed to hearing and the FWO secured a total of $13,608 in penalties against the company and Mr Althaus. Althaus Homes and Mr Althaus breached the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with a FWO Compliance Notice requiring them to calculate and back-pay leave entitlements owing to an apprentice carpenter employed between March and September, 2019.
Althaus Homes fully back-paid the apprentice more than $1500 owing to him only after the Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action.
Judge Jarrett, of the Federal Court, dismissed Mr Althaus’s claim that he had not clearly understood the Compliance Notice and found that Althaus Homes’ failure to comply “clearly demonstrates a reckless disregard for its obligations under the Fair Work Act and the authority of the applicant as a regulator of Commonwealth workplace laws”.
Judge Jarrett said if Althaus Homes had complied with the Compliance Notice within the specified time frame “this proceeding would have been avoided altogether”.
This case demonstrates the importance of understanding and complying with the obligations arising from the Fair Work Act, and in cooperating with the FWO when they investigate matters and issue compliance notices. A $1,500 back-payment, not paid when first requested, resulted in the builder paying more than ten times the original amount in back-payments and penalties.
The original article is attached here.
If you are unsure about your employment obligations or have been issued a notice by the FWO, we encourage you to seek advice. Active Law is available to assist you. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on (07) 3160 0000.
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