Rule book for SA operator

A South Australian operator has come under fire from the Fair Work Ombudsman recently

A South Australian operator who has previously been warned by the Fair Work Ombudsman about workplace laws now faces workplace action for ongoing breaches.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has found the company is continuing to misclassify drivers as sub-contractors instead of employees, underpaying five of them more than $10,000.

Chryss Enterprises first came to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s attention as part of an inquiry in 2014 into allegations of sham contracting among transport operators engaged by the South Australian Government to transport special needs school students.

The operation was formally cautioned 12 months ago about ongoing breaches of workplace laws.

Chryss was one of nine mini-bus operators to receive a letter of caution in relation to unlawful independent contracting arrangements.

The company provides transport services for tourists, businesses and schools, including vehicle hire, wine tours, school and general transfers and school bus runs.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says despite advice and assistance provided to the company, and a warning about the need for future compliance, the agency continued to receive requests for assistance from Chryss drivers.

James says follow-up investigations revealed four drivers engaged as independent contractors should have been classified as employees.

The misclassification resulted in the drivers being short-changed more than $10,000 between February, 2012 and August, 2014.

The male drivers, aged between 51 and 66, were paid as little as $14.40 an hour but should have received up to $22.24 for normal hours worked.

Chryss also made unlawful deductions from the drivers’ wages, providing no explanation for some of the withdrawals.

Fair Work inspectors also found annual leave and leave loading was not paid in one instance and that adequate employment records were not maintained.

James says the failure of the company to comply with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s earlier requests now means enforcement action is necessary.

Chryss has been asked to sign an enforceable undertaking (EU) to ensure behavioural change.

Enforceable Undertakings were introduced by legislation in 2009 and the Fair Work Ombudsman has been using them to achieve strong outcomes against companies that breach workplace laws without the need for civil court proceedings.

"We use enforceable undertakings where we have formed a view that a breach of the law has occurred, but where the employer has acknowledged this and accepted responsibility and agreed to co-operate and fix the problem," James says.

The EU requires Chryss Enterprises and its manager Jim Chryssidis to reimburse a total of $10,183 to five employees, conduct a self-audit of driver entitlements and send a written apology to each of the affected employees - among other requirements.

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