The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against the operator of a horse training business in Victoria.
Facing court is Jessica Lee Schneider, a sole trader who operates a business trading as ‘Vengeance Performance Horses’ based at Lovely Banks, near Geelong.
The business is involved in re-training retired racehorses, predominantly for equestrian purposes.
The regulator investigated after receiving requests for assistance from two young workers who were employed part-time at Ms Schneider’s business for periods of approximately three months and six months, until January 2021.
The workers, aged 16 and 21 during their employment, performed various duties associated with training and caring for the horses.
A Fair Work Inspector issued Compliance Notices to Ms Schneider in March 2021 after forming a belief the workers had been underpaid minimum wages and weekend penalty rates under the Miscellaneous Award 2020.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Ms Schneider, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notices, which required the company to calculate and back-pay the workers’ outstanding entitlements.
It is alleged the company also failed to issue pay slips to the workers.
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.
“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers.”
“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance,” Ms Parker said.
In relation to the two alleged Compliance Notice breaches, Ms Schneider faces maximum penalties of $6,660 per breach. In addition, Ms Schneider faces a maximum penalty of up to $13,320 for the alleged failure to issue pay slips.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a court order for Ms Schneider to take the action required by the Compliance Notices, including calculating and rectifying any underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest. A directions hearing has been listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 13 December 2021.