VIC operator faces action

Victorian operator falls foul of the Fair Work Ombudsman and faces workplace enforcement

A Victorian snowfields bus company faces enforcement action from the Fair Work Ombudsman after being caught short-changing its staff for the second time in a year.

Falls Creek Coach Service which operates a bus and coach service from Tawonga South and Beechworth, as well as a Caltex service station at Tawonga South, was found to have underpaid 22 employees a total of $5572.

The company was contacted by ABC magazine but a representative declined to comment.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the operator has been asked to sign an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) aimed at encouraging behavioural change and the case is a timely reminder to businesses of the need to ensure they understand and comply with the law.

"We know workplace laws can be complicated for the uninitiated, but we ask businesses to use the tools and resources that we provide for them," she says.

"We are committed to helping employers understand and comply with workplace laws, but operators need to make an effort to get the basics right in the first place.

"Enforceable Undertakings are used 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."

The organisation is randomly audited to ensure its workers are receiving their minimum wages and entitlements and received a formal Letter of Caution from the Fair Work Ombudsman, putting it on notice that further contraventions of federal workplace laws may result in enforcement action.

The business was audited again in August last year to monitor its compliance.

Fair Work inspectors found nine employees had been short-changed a total of $8257 between July 1 and August 28, 2014, with individual underpayments ranging from $100 to more than $3500.

The workers were employed across four awards, the Clerks Private Sector Award 2010, the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010, the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Service and Retail Award 2010 and the Falls Creek Coach Service Collective Agreement 2009.

Inspectors determined a clerk employed under the Clerks Private Sector Award 2010 was underpaid her minimum hourly rates, overtime and Sunday penalties. 

She was paid $24.10 an hour when she should have received $25 and up to $39.52 for work on Sundays and also failed to receive payments in lieu of meal breaks.

The reservation and ticket sellers employed under the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010 did not receive their weekend penalty rates or payments in lieu of meal breaks.

They were paid $27.96 for work on Saturdays when they should have received $32.61.

Console operators working at the service station under the Vehicle Manufacturing Service and Retail Award were underpaid their minimum hourly rate, weekend and overtime rates.

They were paid $21.57 when they should have received $24.44 and up to $31.77 for work on Sundays.  

Bus drivers covered by the Falls Creek Coach Service Collective Agreement 2009 were underpaid their overtime and Sunday penalty rates, and were paid $24.31 for overtime, when they should have received $33.20.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has been working to make compliance easier for businesses by continually building on the information available on its website. 

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