A home care and disability service provider in South-East Queensland has recently been fined $27,000 for its failure to comply with a compliance notice issued by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Community Health, Emergency Care and Support (CHECS) Pty Ltd received this fine in addition to a Court order requiring the service provider to backpay outstanding employee entitlements in full to its former employee.
What is a Compliance Notice?
Employers may receive a compliance notice from the Fair Work Ombudsman if a Fair Work Inspector requires an employer to fix a breach of an Australian workplace law. One of the most common breaches leading to a Compliance Notice is unpaid wages or underpayment of wages under the relevant award or industrial instrument.
A compliance notice will set out the following information:
- The workplace law breached by the employer;
- The remedial action required to be taken by the employer (for example, payment of the unpaid wages and/or evidence to demonstrate the remedial action taken);
- The timeframe in which the employer is required to resolve the issue;
- The steps the employer can take to have the compliance notice reviewed by a court; and
- The consequences if an employer does not comply with the compliance notice.
In the abovementioned case relating to CHECS Pty Ltd, the compliance notice required the service provider to make a back-payment of unpaid wages to a casual disability support worker it employed from October to November 2021. The Fair Work Inspector issued the compliance notice upon forming the belief that the worker was not paid any wages for the final two days of employment, as was required in accordance with the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010.
Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said that business operators that fail to comply with the requirements set out in their compliance notices need to be conscious that they may face penalties in court in addition to having to back-pay their employees.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has stated that they are making it a priority to take action to improve compliance in the care sector. They have also encouraged employees to access the Fair Work Ombudsman’s free advice, assistance and resources if they have any concerns about their pay or entitlements.
This comes as a timely reminder for employers in all industries, and particularly those in the care sector, to:
- Ensure that their employees are paid, at a minimum, their entitlements under the relevant modern award or industrial instrument;
- If a compliance notice is received, employers should read the Notice carefully and take timely and appropriate action in response;
- Cooperate and liaise with the Fair Work Inspector as to any requirements made of them;
If you have received a compliance notice, or if you have any concerns regarding whether your employees are correctly paid their wages and/or entitlements, please feel free to reach out to one of our Workplace Team for advice and assistance.
For further information please contact Danny Clifford, Director of Employment and Workplace Law.