NSW road freight operator fined for failing to back-pay workers


The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has secured a penalty in court against the operator of a freight distribution business based on NSW’s mid north coast.

According to a FWO media release issued today, the Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a $3500 penalty against sole trader Christine Louise Callaghan, who operated RC Express in Taree.

The penalty was imposed in response to Callaghan failing to comply with a Compliance Notice requiring her to back-pay four workers who were employed at the business between February 2016 and June 2021.

The Court has also ordered Callaghan to fully comply with the Compliance Notice and rectify the $20,684 in underpayments to the workers, plus superannuation and interest. Since the FWO commenced legal action, the workers have been partially back-paid $1200.

Callaghan could not be reached for comment.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said business operators that fail to act on Compliance Notices need to be aware they can face court-imposed penalties on top of having to back-pay workers.

“When Compliance Notices are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements. Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact us for free advice and assistance,” Parker said.

The FWO commenced an investigation after receiving requests for assistance from the affected workers. One worker, aged between 19 and 23 at the time, was employed as an administration clerk. The three other workers were employed as delivery drivers.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to Callaghan in September 2021 after forming a belief the workers had been underpaid a range of entitlements including minimum full-time wages, minimum casual wages, accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements at the end of employment and payment-in-lieu-of-notice owed under the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2020, the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010, the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2020, the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010, and the National Employment Standards.

Judge Douglas Humphreys considered the underpayments “significant” and noted the “very limited” amount that had been back-paid to the workers.

Judge Humphreys said, in imposing the penalty, that the matter was serious and that the “road freight transport industry has been highlighted as an area where there is some significant non-compliance.”

“There was thus a need to send a message to employers that a failure to comply with a compliance notice will not be tolerated,” Judge Humphreys said.

Employers and employees can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

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