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Convenience Store Operator In Court For Failing To Back-pay Workers

Convenience store operator in court for failing to back-pay workers

An Adelaide convenience store operator is facing court for allegedly failing to comply with a notice to back-pay workers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is taking the legal action against Ethan Okili who operated two ‘City Convenience’ stores.

Convenience store operator fails to comply with Compliance Notice

Fair Work commenced an investigation into wage payments at the two stores as as result of a complaint from a retail assistant.

The regulator alleges Okili and his companies failed to comply with Compliance Notices.

The notices required him to calculate and back-pay any outstanding amounts owing to employees.

Additionally, Fair Work alleges Okili and his companies failed to comply with Notices to Produce records issued by an inspector.

Furthermore, it alleges he failed to issue pay slips, in breach of the Fair Work Act.


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Employees allegedly underpaid

Inspectors issued the the Compliance Notices as a result of inspectors believed the employer was underpaying:

  • minimum hourly wage rates,
  • overtime rates
  • and penalty rates for weekend, evening and public holiday work

for work performed between November 2018 and August 2019.

Compliance Notices are not optional

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says the regulator will enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it will continue to take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Under the Fair Work Act, Notices to Produce and Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors if they form a belief that an employer has breached workplace laws.

“Where employers do not comply with our notices, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can then order them to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.”

Penalties

As a result of the alleged breaches, the companies face penalties of up to $63,000 per contravention, while Okili faces penalties of up to $12,600 per contravention.

Additionally, Fair Work is seeking an order requiring the companies to rectify underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.

The Federal Circuit Court has a directions hearing listed on 4 August 2020.


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