Recent Cases Have Highlighted some Worrying Trends
FWO Focus for 2021/22
The Fair Work Ombudsman spoke recently about turning their focus for the coming financial year on contract cleaning businesses after a recent spate of cases in the industry.
The Fair Work Ombudsmen regularly focuses on specific business types in order to confirm that wages and entitlements are being correctly paid and that workplace conditions and compliance are in line with expectations and this coming year will delve into the world of contract cleaning.
In April, 2021, the FWO commenced legal action against a contract cleaning company in regional Western Australia, alleging it had underpaid employees by more than $110,000.00 and had falsified records. The sole shareholder, and director of the business, is also facing court.
The action targets the period between November 2017 and November 2018 and concerns 35 employees who were employed as cleaners during that time.
Further, it is alleged that the business had been maintaining false or misleading records and providing these false records to FWO Inspectors.
Finally, it was noted that the underpayments occurred following previous advice from FWO about prior underpayments between 2010 and 2014.
Entitlements allegedly underpaid included minimum-engagement pay, casual loadings, part-time allowances, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, overtime rates, annual leave loading, broken shift allowances and leading hand allowances. Employees have been back paid in full.
In May 2021 the Fair Work Ombudsman turned their attention to a NSW contract cleaning company on the central NSW coast. This followed receipt of a request from a former part-time employee of the company who was employed by them in 2019 and stated they did not believe they had received correct wages and annual leave entitlements.
The FWO issued a compliance notice to the company in 2021 but this was not acted upon, so court proceedings have commenced.
As well as being required to re-calculate the wages paid over the period and make restitution to the staff employed during that time, the business may also face penalties up to $6660.00 for every breach.
Whether you are involved in Contract Cleaning or any other industry, you must ensure that employees’ wages and entitlements are paid in line with their relative awards