Irvine's Transport stung over underpayments

Fair Work Ombudsman imposes strict conditions on Irvine’s Transport after it underpaid staff $142,000

January 18, 2011

The Fair Work Ombudsman has imposed strict conditions on a South Australia trucking operator after it underpaid staff more than $142,000 over a three-year period.

The Port Pirie-based Irvine’s Transport failed to pay 26 of its staff correct penalty rates for weekends, overtime and public holiday work.

The underpayments happened between March 2006 and January 2009 and ranged from from as little as $45 to $29,174. Other significant amounts include $16,075, $14,218, $9764, $9069 and $7925.

Irvine’s also failed to make a minimum payment of four hours to casual workers.

To avoid legal action, Irvine’s has been ordered to back-pay workers the total amount of $142,609.96 in monthly instalments by December 1 this year.

It must write to affected current and former staff apologising for the error and commit to not breaching workplace laws in future. A paid meeting must be organised for existing employees so the errors can be explained to them.

The Ombudsman has ordered Irvine’s to issue a public notice in the local paper informing the community of the error and offering "sincere regret and apologies" for the breaches.

Company owners Gregory John Irvine and Scott David Irvine must attend training courses and Irvine’s must prepare a workplace relations manual for staff.

The trucking operator will be required to show in writing to the Fair Work Ombudsman that it has put systems and processes in place to ensure compliance.

It must also report to the Ombudsman at the end of the financial year for the next three years on staff classifications, wage rates and entitlements and details of compliance measures implemented during the year.

The Ombudsman says Irvine’s paid workers a flat rate of pay for all hours worked, regardless if it was on weekends, outside ordinary time or on public holidays.

The breaches were uncovered in 2008 during the Ombudsman’s national random audit campaign of the transport industry. The underpayments were inadvertent, with the Ombudsman saying they were due to ignorance rather than deliberate non-compliance.

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