Hefty penalties loom due to alleged underpayments

Truck driver allegedly underpaid more than $124,000. Now his employer is facing the prospect of back-payments and significant fines

Hefty penalties loom due to alleged underpayments
Hefty penalties loom due to alleged underpayments
March 13, 2013

Hefty fines and a significant back-payment are looming for a Melbourne business dragged to court over allegations it underpaid its truck driver more than $124,000.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is prosecuting Dandenong grocery and importation business Lay Brothers, alleging it paid incorrect hourly rates between January 2007 and December 2011.

The FWO alleges the 40-year-old driver was paid $10 to $11.50 an hour, resulting in a total underpayment of $124, 816.

In its claim submitted to the Federal Magistrates Court in Melbourne, the FWO argues the driver should have received at least $14 to $16 for normal work hours and more than $20 an hour for overtime and weekends.

The Ombudsman says the employee often worked more than 60 hours per week, including weekends.

It also alleges Lay Brothers breached workplace laws by cashing-out the driver’s accrued annual and personal leave entitlements and also breached legal requirements around record-keeping and pay slips.

The company faces penalties of up to $33,000 per breach, plus back-payment of the delivery driver’s underpaid wages.

Inspectors from the FWO investigated the company after receiving a complaint from the driver, who is an immigrant from East Timor and speaks limited English.

Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says the significant amount of underpayment involved and the vulnerability of the employee were key factors in the decision to prosecute.

The case is listed for a directions hearing on June 19.

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