A Rockhampton-based company that didn’t pay two workers their proper termination and redundancy payments has been penalised $31,590.
Industrial relations experts say that withholding redundancy payments is a common form of wage theft.
The two men worked as welders for Alertvale Pty Ltd on 457 skilled migrant visas for more than a year when their employment was terminated in February 2016.
The company, which provides services to the mining industry in regional Queensland, failed to fully pay the Filipino men their payment in lieu of termination, and failed to pay four weeks of redundancy entitlements.
Alertvale also unlawfully deducted $1,915 for training that the workers undertook.
The underpayments totalled $9,931.
Underpayments ‘reckless and negligent’
In the Federal Circuit Court, Judge Robert Harper described the wage theft as “both reckless and negligent” – and criticised Alertvale for not having a dedicated human resources department, despite having more than 350 employees.
In issuing the penalty, Judge Harper said general deterrence was “of fundamental importance to deter those employers who may be tempted to exploit the specific vulnerabilities of employees reliant on their employers for the ability to remain in Australia.”
Withholding redundancy payments common
Industrial relations advocate Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au said many workers never get their full entitlements at the end of employment.
“It is quite common for employers to withhold termination and redundancy payments, especially if a business is winding up,” he said.
Recently, Mr Heffernan represented two medical centre managers who were made redundant and had more than $80,000 in entitlements withheld by their employer.
“In that case, we had to commence legal action in the Federal Court before their boss finally agreed to hand over the money that he owed the workers,” he said.
“The bloke was a low-life who had basically stolen his worker’s money, and without the threat of court action, he would never have paid up.”
In the Alertvale case, the two workers have been back paid in full, and the company assured the court that it now provides workplace relations training for its staff.
If you have not received your proper wages and entitlements, or are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.
Please call our specialist team at WAGETHEFT.net.au on
1300 1 THEFT (1300 184 338)
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