Former security company penalised for failing to back-pay two casual workers

Judge Forbes found that there was a need to impose a penalty to deter similar conduct in future.

The Fair Work Ombudsman reports that it has secured a $22,200 penalty in court against a former security services company that was based in Melbourne.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed the penalty against Cobra Security Services Pty Ltd, which was based at Docklands before it ceased trading.

The penalty was imposed in response to Cobra Security Services failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring it to calculate and back-pay any entitlements owing to two workers it had employed as casual security officers.

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Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said employers that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face penalties in court.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we will continue to take legal action to protect employees. Employers who fail to act on these notices risk substantial penalties. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

The FWO investigated after receiving requests for assistance from the two affected workers.

A Fair Work Inspector issued the Compliance Notice to Cobra Security Services in July 2022 after forming a belief that one of the workers was paid nothing for 10 days of work she performed in March 2022 and that the other was underpaid for work performed between March and May, 2022.

The inspectors formed a belief that the workers were underpaid entitlements under the Security Services Industry Award 2020, including casual minimum wages and penalty rates for work performed on weekends, public holidays and outside of ordinary hours.

Judge Jonathan Forbes found that the failure to comply with the Compliance Notice was serious, saying he accepted that Cobra Security Services had “pursued a strategy, without regard to the law, to avoid its obligations under the [Fair Work] Act compliance regime”.

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Judge Forbes found that there was a need to impose a penalty to deter similar conduct in future.

“The penalty should be sufficiently serious to send a clear signal to other like-minded employers that the type of conduct engaged in by the respondent is unacceptable,” Judge Forbes said.

Judge Forbes found there was merit in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s submission that Cobra Security Services’ lack of cooperation and lack of contrition was intentional rather than benign.

“The Ombudsman adduced evidence that the Company had applied for voluntary deregistration after these proceedings had been commenced and had mislead the corporate regulator by stating that there were no current proceedings against the Company. I agree that such conduct heightens the need for deterrence,” Judge Forbes said.

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