Local IT services business in court for wage theft

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in the Federal Circuit Court against the operators of an IT services business in Melbourne.

Facing court are The Backup Bloke Pty Ltd, which is based in Moorabbin, and company director Paul Loiacono.

The regulator commenced its investigation after receiving a request for assistance from an employee.

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This employee had been engaged to work full time for The Back-up Bloke as a salesperson and service technician.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to The Backup Bloke in September 2020.

FWO issued this notice after forming a belief that, due to being paid only sporadically, the employee was owed 107 weeks of unpaid wages under the General Retail Industry Award 2010 for work performed between 2015 and 2019.

Annual leave entitlements were allegedly also underpaid.

The FWO alleges The Backup Bloke, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required it to calculate and back-pay the worker’s outstanding entitlements.

Mr Loiacono was allegedly involved in the breach.

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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. 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 a penalty against The Backup Bloke Pty Ltd and Mr Loiacono.

The company faces a maximum potential penalty of up to $33,300 and Mr Loiacono faces a maximum potential penalty of up to $6,660.

The regulator is also seeking a court order for The Backup Bloke to take the action required by the Compliance Notice, which includes calculating and rectifying any underpayments in full for the employee, plus superannuation and interest.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne on 1 March 2021.

Employers and employees can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace.