The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of a security services company in Perth.
Facing court are Statewide Security (WA) Pty Ltd, which is based in Clarkson, Western Australia, and the company’s sole director, Richard Clayton.
The regulator investigated after receiving requests for assistance from three workers who had been employed by Statewide Security (WA) Pty Ltd as security guards.
A Fair Work Inspector issued three Compliance Notices to the company in May 2020 after forming a belief that the three workers had been underpaid entitlements for various periods of work between May 2018 and November 2019.
The inspector formed a belief that the workers had been underpaid entitlements under the Security Services Industry Award 2010, including minimum rates for ordinary hours, overtime, annual leave and penalty rates for weekend and night work.
The FWO alleges Statewide Security (WA) Pty Ltd, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notices, which required the company to calculate and back-pay the workers’ outstanding entitlements. The company also allegedly failed to comply with a Notice to Produce records or documents issued by a Fair Work Inspector in January 2020.
Mr Clayton was allegedly involved in the company’s failures to comply with the Compliance Notices and the Notice to Produce.
In line with the FWO’s proportionate approach to regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FWO made several attempts to secure voluntary compliance with the Compliance Notices before commencing legal action.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
“Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors to deal with apparent contraventions of the Fair Work Act or industrial instruments, most typically Modern Awards,” Ms Parker said.
“Where employers do not respond to or comply with Compliance Notices, we will take appropriate enforcement action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties for not complying with such a Notice, in addition to back-paying workers as appropriate. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free assistance.”
The FWO is seeking penalties against Statewide Security (WA) Pty Ltd and Mr Clayton. In relation to the alleged Compliance Notice contraventions, the company faces maximum potential penalties of $31,500 per breach and Mr Clayton faces potential maximum penalties of up to $6,300 per breach. In relation to the alleged Notice to Produce contravention, the company faces a maximum potential penalty of $63,000 and Mr Clayton faces a maximum penalty of up to $12,600.
The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to take the action required by the Compliance Notices, including calculating and rectifying underpayments in full to the workers, plus interest and superannuation.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Perth on 15 June 2021.