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Palmer United Candidate Penalised For Sacking Guard Who Queried Hours

Palmer United candidate penalised for sacking guard who queried hours

A Gold Coast security operator who sacked a worker who queried the hours that he was rostered has been penalised more than $116,000.

In addition, the employer underpaid staff and made unlawful deductions from their wages.

United Party candidate

Adam Marcinkowski, who was once a Palmer United Party candidate and operated the security business through his company VIP Security Services Pty Ltd, also admitted to underpaying three other guards $15,938.

Mr Marcinkowski provided security services at a range of Gold Coast City Council sites, including libraries.

He contravened the Fair Work Act by dismissing the full-time employee who had asked about his hours, because it is unlawful to take adverse action against a worker for making a complaint or enquiry about their employment.

Staff who spoke to regulator threatened with sack

After Fair Work investigators visited a number of council sites last year, Mr Marcinkowski allegedly threatened to sack any staff who spoke with the inspectors.

According to the Ombudsman, Mr Marcinkowski told a supervisor to find out if anyone had spoken with inspectors, and to tell them “they can just f**king go straight to the dole queue … they’re getting the sack.”

The investigation found that Mr Marcinkowski and VIP Security were paying guards a flat rate of $24 an hour, which meant they didn’t receive weekend, night and public holiday rates that they were entitled to.

In addition, Mr Marcinkowski didn’t pay proper annual leave entitlements and had made unlawful deductions from employees’ wages for uniforms.

Former Palmer United Party candidate and wage thief Adam Marcinkowski.

Underpayments ‘deliberate’

In the Federal Circuit Court, Judge Michael Jarrett was scathing of Mr Marcinkowski’s conduct, describing it as “indicative of systemic behaviour which suggests not only an utter disregard for the law, but also a lack of consideration for basic entitlements, workplace rights and decency”.

Judge Jarrett found the underpayments were deliberate:

“He plainly knew the relevant rates at the time he employed each of the employees, but deliberately caused (his company) not to pay them, but an insufficient flat rate instead.” 

Criminal penalties for wage theft

Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan, from Industrial Relations Claims, said the case was more evidence of the need for criminal penalties for wage theft.

“Until we start locking up common thieves like Mr Marcinkowski – who deliberately set out to steal from their employees – then wage theft will continue unabated,” he said.

“Let’s hope the current wage theft inquiry in Queensland results in wage theft being classified a criminal offence, which is what we have been calling for for some time.”

Judge Jarrett ordered penalties of $115,668 against Mr Marcinkowski, but could not penalise his company because he put it into liquidation in April.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is preparing to refer the matter to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

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