Readers may recall our article on an accounting firm being found liable for its client’s breaches of the Fair Work Act.
In May 2017, the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) found the accountant’s client, the operator of a Japanese restaurant chain in Melbourne, underpaid its workers and thereby contravened the Fair Work Act. Critically though, the judge found the accounting firm, which provided the restaurant with book-keeping services, knew its client underpaid its employees and had ‘deliberately shut its eye as to what was going on’.
Under the Fair Work Act’s accessorial liability provisions, a third party who is involved in a contravention of the Act is also taken to have contravened the relevant provision of the Fair Work Act.
The FCC has now handed down the penalties in this case. The employer was ordered to pay penalties of nearly $116,000. The accounting firm was ordered to pay penalties of $53,880 for its involvement in seven contraventions of the Fair Work Act. The highest penalties imposed on the accounting firm were for its involvement in failing to pay workers the minimum hourly rate of pay and Saturday and Sunday loadings.
If you need assistance with understanding your obligations under the Fair Work Act, or advice about any other workplace matter, please contact: