The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of a real estate and business brokering company in Perth.
Facing court are Darrell Crouch & Associates Pty Ltd, based in Joondanna, and the company’s managing director, Darrell Crouch.
The regulator investigated the company after a former employee, who had been employed as a property manager, lodged a request for assistance.
A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Darrell Crouch & Associates Pty Ltd in January 2021 after forming a belief the employee had not been paid his entitlement to payment in lieu of notice when his employment with the company ended in 2019.
The employee was allegedly owed the entitlement under the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges the company without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and pay the employee’s outstanding entitlements. Mr Crouch was allegedly involved in the breach.
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 legal action.
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 Darrell Crouch & Associates Pty Ltd and Mr Crouch. The company faces a penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Crouch faces a penalty of up to $6,660.
The regulator is also seeking a court order for the company to take the action required to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying the alleged underpayment in full, plus superannuation and interest.
A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Perth on 15 June 2021.