A group of security guards who didn’t receive their proper wages after working at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018 have finally been back-paid, following action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Security services were contracted out by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation to four principal providers who then used sub-contractors to provide personnel for the event.
This formed what is known as a labour supply chain.
Companies not compliant with workplace laws
The Fair Work Ombudsman audited nine of the companies involved, including principal providers and sub-contractors, and found none were compliant with workplace laws.
Inspectors found that guards were not being paid until well after they had finished their shifts, with some even waiting months to be paid.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said this was a breach of the Fair Work Act.
“The delays were caused by shortcomings in the electronic record keeping system used to record work hours, which meant guards’ shifts had to be manually reconciled before they could be paid,” she said.
Workers not paid overtime or penalty rates
The Ombudsman also found two of the security companies didn’t pay proper overtime, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, which resulted in the underpayments for the ten guards.
Three of the audited security providers also did not keep proper employment records or provide correct pay slips.
The Fair Work Ombudsman issued four Infringement Notices, totalling $12,600 in penalties for record-keeping and pay slip breaches.
It also sent contravention letters to all the audited businesses requiring them to take action to rectify their non-compliance, and issued one Formal Caution, putting a security provider on notice about possible legal action for any future breaches.
“Large-scale events can provide challenges for some businesses to ensure they are properly meeting their lawful workplace obligations. It’s vital they recognise and plan around this complexity to ensure their staff are paid in full and on time,” Ms Parker said.
Criminal sanctions needed
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, said there was no excuse for businesses not paying their workers properly.
“Too many workers are having their wages stolen by greedy or incompetent bosses – and it’s just not good enough,” he said.
“That’s why we need to introduce criminal sanctions and start convicting employers who steal their workers wages – and even locking some of them up.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman should be congratulated for chasing these stolen wages for the security guards – but unfortunately, this is only a drop in the ocean.
“As we speak, there are tens of thousands of Australian workers who are being ripped off by their boss, and the regulator doesn’t have the time, or the resources, to help them all.”
Ms Parker recently pledged to change the focus of her agency to more enforcement, instead of education, and committed to take more action against labour supply chains that rip off workers.