A long-established family business in Cairns will reimburse 19 casual employees almost $65,000 after receiving advice that it has been underpaying their wages, after the business operators told the Fair Work Ombudsman they were unaware of their obligations under the Fair Work Act and three separate Modern Awards.
Bransfords (Qld) Pty Ltd, which operates a Mobil service station, take-away food outlet and tackle shop at Clifton Beach, paid its staff a flat hourly rate for all hours worked.
However, depending on where in the mixed business they worked, the employees were covered by the terms and conditions of the Fast Food Industry Award, the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award or the General Retail Industry Award.
The employees were also unaware of their minimum lawful entitlements.
The underpayments were identified after Fair Work inspectors randomly visited the business in October last year and examined time and wages records. Individual amounts owed range from as little as $41 up to $8506 for the period July 1 last year to February 23 this year.
As a result of its workplace contraventions, Bransfords has been asked to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman. Since its involvement with the Fair Work Ombudsman, the company has also implemented new computerised payroll, rostering and record-keeping systems.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the company’s experience highlights the importance of employers understanding their workplace obligations.
“This matter also demonstrates how lack of awareness or ignorance of minimum wages and conditions can lead to a hefty bill in a short space of time, potentially having a negative financial impact on the business,” she said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman agreed to a payment plan which allowed Bransfords to reimburse all outstanding entitlements over three months.
The Enforceable Undertakings requires Bransfords to register and use the Fair Work Ombudsman’s My Account website tool and to engage an external specialist to audit its workplace relations compliance again in 12 months.