The operators of a Nowra call centre, on the New South Wales south coast, have been fined a total of $107,500 and ordered to back-pay almost $200,000 to staff.
Quincolli Pty Ltd, which formerly operated an inbound call centre called for several NSW municipal councils and other organisations, has been fined $81,000 and ordered to pay a total of $193,419 in underpayments of wages to 33 call centre staff.
In addition, Quincolli Director, Judith Madge Potter, who managed the call centre at the time of the underpayments, has been fined $26,500.
The fines and back-payment order, imposed in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney, are the result of a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Federal Magistrate Rolf Driver found that Potter was involved in Quincolli underpaying 33 casual employees’ minimum hourly rates, overtime rates, annual leave loadings and shift, weekend and public holiday allowances in 2009.
The largest underpayment of an individual employee was $17,467.
Federal Magistrate Driver said the contraventions represented a failure to provide basic and important entitlements under workplace relations legislation and needed to be taken seriously.
“The purpose of that legislation is to provide a safety net which ensures adequate minimum entitlements to employees, particularly those who are vulnerable or are on low income rates,” Federal Magistrate Driver said in his judgment delivered today.
Fair Work Inspectors discovered the underpayments when they conducted an audit of the company. Potter also breached workplace laws by failing to comply with a Fair Work inspector’s request to provide records and documents.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson, said the Court’s decision sends a message that underpaying low-paid employees’ minimum rates is a serious matter and will not be tolerated.
“We won’t hesitate to take action to ensure workplace laws relating to minimum pay rates are complied with,” Mr Wilson said.
“Successful prosecutions such as this also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws because it helps them to compete on a level playing field.”