The Fair Work Ombudsman announced on Friday that it will be pursuing legal action against Victorian accounting firm, EZY Accounting 123 Pty Ltd, over its alleged involvement in the underpayment of two Taiwanese backpackers employed by one of their clients. This is the first time that the Ombudsman has issued proceedings against an accountant for being involved in a client's contravention of workplace laws.
Blue Impression Pty Ltd, the operator of a fast-food outlet in Melbourne's QV square, engaged EZY Accounting 123 to conduct payroll services on their behalf. It is alleged that two Taiwanese employees were underpaid a total of $9,549 between September, 2014 and April, 2015. They were paid flat rates as low as $16.50 per hour, well below the minimum hourly rate, and were also not paid enough to cover public holiday penalty rates or weekend, night and casual loadings as set out in the Fast Food Industry Award. It is also claimed that the workers were not provided with the appropriate meal and rest breaks. The Ombudsman claims that Ezy Accounting 123 processed these wage payments with the full knowledge that they were below the legal minimum standards.
Blue Impression and its operations manager, Sze Teng Wong, are also facing Court action.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has been examining the role of third parties in breaches of workplace law for some time now, stating that they have become increasingly concerned with the advice given by some key advisers in regard to serious and deliberate contraventions. This action signals that the Ombudsman is prepared to hold such third parties to account for their part in any contraventions.
Employment law is an area of constant change and this is a timely reminder to ensure that all of your staff remain up-to-date with the latest legislation. Should you need to arrange a training session on any aspect of employment law, or simply organise a 'refresher course', please feel free to get in touch with us.
The contents of the e-alert are for general information only. They are not intended as professional advice - for that you should consult a solicitor or barrister, or any other suitably qualified professional such as your accountant.