Boske to battle FWO in court over driver pay allegations

By: Rob McKay

Watchdog starts campaign on alleged misclassification of employees as contractors

Boske to battle FWO in court over driver pay allegations
Sandra Parker


The office of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) kicks off the year announcing it will take Queensland firm Boske Road Transport to court for allegedly misclassifying four drivers as independent contractors.

But Boske rejects the FWO’s position and vows to fight it.

"Boske Road Transport denies the allegations in their entirety, and is vigorously defending these proceedings," the company states through its lawyers at law firm, DWF (Australia).

"Given the matter is currently before the Court, the business does not otherwise propose to comment on the matter at this time."

The FWO intends to tell the Federal Circuit Court the alleged underpayments to package delivery drivers total $63,803 over various periods between March 2016 and August 2018.

Alleged underpayments of individual drivers ranged from $7,460 to $32,486.

"The workers drove vans owned by the company, wore company uniforms and were required to work at days and times set by the company," the employment watchdog states.

"Fair Work Inspectors commenced an investigation into the company after receiving requests for assistance from the employees.

"The FWO alleges that the drivers were underpaid as they were in fact employees covered by the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010, and for one worker in relation to a period of long-distance work, the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010.

"It is alleged three of the workers were underpaid hourly overtime rates and public holiday rates, and not paid for any annual or personal leave.

"The long-distance driver, who had the largest alleged underpayment, was also allegedly underpaid through failures to pay for loading and unloading duties and to meet a cents-per-kilometre entitlement."

Read about payroll law changed that come into effect this year, here

The regulator notes that it is cracking down on "companies that misclassify employees as independent contractors".

"If employers misclassify employees as independent contractors and pay flat rates that undercut entitlements, they face serious consequences such as court action, hefty back-payment bills and penalties," Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says.

"Businesses who need information on whether an employment relationship exists should contact us."

In addition to penalties, the FWO is seeking court orders requiring the company to rectify all underpayments with interest and pay all related superannuation entitlements.

A first directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane for May 22.


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