Medical centre in court

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of a medical centre in northern Melbourne.

Facing court is Epping North Medical Centre Pty Ltd and company director Gihan Sugathapala.

The regulator commenced its investigation after receiving a request for assistance from an employee who worked as a receptionist at the centre on a casual basis between August and November, 2019.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Epping North Medical Centre Pty Ltd in April 2020 after forming a belief the employee was underpaid entitlements owed under the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010.

It is alleged the employee was underpaid casual loadings and overtime rates.

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 entitlements.

The FWO alleges Mr Sugathapala was involved in the company’s contravention.

In line with the FWO’s proportionate approach to regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FWO made several attempts to secure voluntary compliance before commencing proceedings.

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.

“Under the Fair Work Act, Compliance Notices are important tools used by inspectors if they form a belief that an employer has breached workplace laws,” Ms Parker said.

“Where employers do not comply with our requests, 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.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman is seeking penalties against Epping North Medical Centre Pty Ltd and Mr Sugathapala. The company faces a penalty of up to $31,500 and Mr Sugathapala faces a penalty of up to $6,300.

The regulator is also seeking orders 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 Melbourne on 15 March 2021.

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