Former truck owner to front court over alleged sham contracting

Former owner of a failed trucking business will face court accused of sham contracting and underpaying worker more than $13,000

September 7, 2011

The former owner of a trucking business will face court accused of sham contracting activity and underpaying a worker more than $13,000.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is prosecuting John Mineef, who owned and operated Villtruck Pty Ltd before it went into liquidation last year. The business was involved in purchasing, repairing and selling second-hand trucks.

Mineeff will face allegations he was centrally involved in breaching sham contracting provisions of workplace laws in relation to an employee who performed panel beating and vehicle detailing duties.

The Ombudsman alleges the employee, aged in his 30s, was dismissed in early 2009 and immediately re-hired as an independent contractor. However, it is alleged the employee’s correct classification was as an employee because he continued to perform substantially the same duties at his employer’s direction.

A hearing has been set for February 21 next year in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says under the sham contracting provisions of workplace laws, it is unlawful to dismiss an employee to engage them as an independent contractor to perform the same duties.

"It is also unlawful to misrepresent an employment relationship as an independent contracting arrangement," he says.

Mineeff is also accused of underpaying the employee $13,592 in annual leave entitlements and breaching workplace laws relating to keeping employment records and issuing pay slips.

Fair Work inspectors investigated after the employee lodged a complaint. Villtruck cannot be prosecuted because it has been liquidated.

Mineeff was allegedly involved in multiple breaches of workplace laws. He faces maximum penalties ranging from $1,100 to $6,600 per breach.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a court order for part of any penalty imposed to go towards rectifying the alleged underpayment of the employee.

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