Atkins Freight appeals $467,000 finding

Court has penalised the South Australian company for underpaying 10 drivers


Adelaide-based transport company Atkins Freight Services has been penalised $93,000 and ordered to pay more than $374,000 in back-pay to 10 truck drivers, the Fair Work Ombudsman's (FWO's) office says.

The decision by the Industrial Relations Court of South Australia follows an investigation and legal action by the FWO's office against the transporter, which hauls bulk petroleum products into Western Australia, New South Wales, and the Northern Territory.

Describing the underpayments as substantial, industrial magistrate Michael Ardlie determined that Atkins Freight Services broke workplace laws by withholding $244,221 in payments from 10 fuel tanker drivers, seven of whom are no longer with the company, between 2007 and 2009.

The underpayments included meal, travel, and shift allowances; overtime, leave, and public holiday entitlements; minimum hourly rates; and expense payments to cover overnight stays away from home.

Totalling $374,487 with superannuation and interest, Atkins Freight Services has paid the outstanding funds to the court, which is currently holding the money pending an appeal.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the court’s decision highlights the seriousness of employee entitlements.

"The Court’s decision should send a message to transport sector employers about the importance of ensuring they pay all minimum entitlements," James says.

The FWO says it first uncovered the underpayments during an audit of Atkins in 2011 and 2012 after a number of requests for assistance came through from employees.

The losses for individual drivers ranged from $7,355 to $59,993.



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