Former automotive repair operator penalised

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a $22,200 penalty in court against the former operator of a Melbourne-based automotive repair and service business.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed the penalty against C & G Smith Enterprises Pty Ltd, which formerly operated a Rapid Tune franchise outlet in Keysborough, in Melbourne’s south-east.

The penalty was imposed in response to C & G Smith Enterprises failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to back-pay entitlements to a full-time motor mechanic it had employed between October 2019 and October 2020.

The Court also ordered C & G Smith Enterprises to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying the underpayment in full, plus superannuation and interest.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.

“We have no tolerance for deliberate non-compliance as occurred in this case. When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements,” Ms Parker said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The FWO commenced an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from the affected worker. The Compliance Notice was issued in April 2021 after an inspector formed a belief that the worker had been underpaid minimum wages and annual leave entitlements under the Fair Work Act’s National Employment Standards and the Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award 2020.

Judge Jonathan Forbes found that the company had taken a “head-in-the-sand response” to the Compliance Notice and that there was a need to impose a penalty to deter C & G Smith Enterprises and other employers from similar conduct in future.

“Doing nothing is not an option and inaction should be regarded as serious. All employers who are subject to the Fair Work Act should understand this,” Judge Forbes said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s second litigation against C & G Smith Enterprises, which commenced this year, remains before the Court.

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