The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has, for the first time, commenced legal proceedings against an accounting firm alleging the firm was knowingly involved in underpaying its client’s workers.

According to the FWO, the Melbourne based accounting firm provided payroll services to its client, which operated a fast food outlet. The workers at the fast food outlet were allegedly paid well below the rates they were entitled to under the Fast Food Industry Award.

The FWO has launched proceedings against both the employer and the accounting firm in the Federal Circuit Court, indicating the FWO’s willingness to take legal action against accountants or other professionals believed to have knowingly facilitated contraventions of workplace laws. The accounting firm faces a potential penalty of up to $54,000 for each contravention.

Although the outcome of this action remains to be seen, professional service firms that do not have adequate expertise in the area of workplace laws or give incorrect or bad advice are not only subjecting their clients to the risk of civil penalties but also themselves.

If you need assistance with award payments or any other workplace matter, please contact:

Jim Rutherford
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5226 8579

Sonia McCabe
Senior Associate
Harwood Andrews
T: 03 5226 8558