A Gold Coast call centre operator has back-paid more than $77,000 to 43 employees in order to avoid court action for breaching workplace laws.
The Fair Work Ombudsman offered Global Interactive Operations, based at Broadbeach, the chance to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking, instead of court action, after the company admitted to underpaying the workers.
The breaches were uncovered during audits conducted by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The company performed call centre work on behalf of Global Interactive Group who were engaged by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance to deliver marketing services.
Fair Work inspectors found that casual workers weren’t paid their minimum casual loading, pay penalty rates for evening, overtime and public holiday hours between July 2016 and February 2019.
In addition, some casual workers were not given a minimum of three hours work per shift, as outlined in the award.
The underpayments totalled $77,286 with individual workers owed between $2.70 to $9392.65.
Conditions of the Enforceable Undertaking
Under the conditions of the Enforceable Undertaking, the company has agreed to engage independent auditors to check if any other workers have not been receiving their correct entitlements, and to rectify any underpayments.
Global Interactive Operations must also issue a letter of apology to each of the affected workers.
In addition to back-paying staff, Global Interactive Operations will make a contrition payment of $5,000 payment to the Commonwealth Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Enforceable Undertakings send wrong message
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, said he is concerned that Enforceable Undertakings send the wrong message to rogue employers.
“While they may be appropriate in some circumstances, we are seeing the regulator offering these Enforceable Undertakings more and more frequently, instead of taking dodgy bosses to court,” he said.
“I believe they send the wrong message to employers that if you do steal wages from your workers, and you get caught, all you have to do is pay back what you owe, say you’re sorry and make a token donation to a charity or the Commonwealth Revenue Fund, and you get away with it.
“Employers who steal wages from their employees should be hauled before the courts and face the full force of the law.”
Enforceable Undertaking appropriate
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that an Enforceable Undertaking was appropriate in this case, given that the company co-operated with the investigation, admitted to breaching workplace laws and paid back their staff.
“The company faces ongoing scrutiny from the Fair Work Ombudsman, including external audits of its workforce for five years,” she said.
“We have no tolerance for employers who underpay young employees, as they can be particularly vulnerable if they are unaware of their rights at work. We will continue to take enforcement action to ensure that all workers receive their lawful entitlements.”