The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of a fish farm and food production company located in the Hunter Region of New South Wales.
Facing court is Tailor Made Fish Farms Pty Ltd, which is based in Port Stephens, and company director Nicholas Arena.
The FWO commenced an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from a worker who was employed by Tailor Made Fish Farms as an aquaculture attendant between 2015 and 2020.
A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to the company in January 2021 after forming a belief the worker was not paid entitlements owed under the Aquaculture Industry Award 2010, including minimum wage entitlements and weekend and public holiday loading entitlements.
The FWO alleges that at the time the worker’s employment ended, the employee was owed an estimated total of $11,300 in unpaid entitlements.
The FWO alleges the company, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s outstanding entitlements. Mr Arena is alleged to have been involved in the contravention.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws and take businesses to court where lawful requests are not complied with.
“Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors to deal with apparent contraventions of the Fair Work Act or industrial instruments, most typically Modern Awards,” Ms Parker said.
“Where employers do not respond to or comply with these Notices, we will take appropriate enforcement action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties for not complying with such a Notice, in addition to back-paying workers as appropriate.”
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”
The FWO is seeking penalties against Tailor Made Fish Farms and Mr Arena. The company faces a maximum penalty of $33,300, while Mr Arena faces a maximum penalty of $6,660.
The regulator is also seeking an order for the company to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying any underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest. A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney on 2 July 2021.
Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace.