A Fair Work Ombudsman media release has announced that the watchdog has succeeded in securing penalties against G.Q. Industries (a Queensland based construction company) and its director, Brendan Paul Angus, over the non-payment of entitlements to two full-time carpentry apprentices who worked on construction sites between September 2013 and June 2015. The case, Fair Work Ombudsman v G.Q. Industries Pty Ltd & Anor  FCCA 928 was decided on 24 April 2020.
According to the media release, the construction company “… failed to pay a range of minimum entitlements owed under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010, including base rates for some ordinary hours, Saturday penalty rates, overtime rates, public holiday pay, annual and personal leave entitlements, safety net contractual entitlements and travel entitlements”.
The court found that Mr Angus and his company also took adverse action by refusing to provide work or pay to one of the apprentices for 11 weeks after the apprentice took two days of sick leave - despite providing a doctor’s certificate. The apprentice’s training contract required him to be provided with 38 hours’ work per week.
Referring to the adverse action taken by the employer, Judge Egan noted in his judgment at [para 11]:
The Court further found that laws relating to frequency-of-pay, record-keeping and pay slips were also breached. The company failed to provide any pay slips to one of the apprentices for 16 months.
The Court secured penalties of $177,174 against the company and its Director after the apprentices were underpaid a total of $32,347. The Court ordered Mr Angus to pay penalties of $29,529 and his company, to pay $147,645 for breaching the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), namely sections 44, 45, 340, 535 and 550.
In his judgment Judge Egan said the contravening conduct was “deliberate” and “could not be viewed as isolated”. His Honour noted at [para 24]:
Commenting in the media release, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said “the penalties should send a clear message that exploitation of apprentices was unacceptable”:
His Honour noted in his judgment that the respondents had been repaid in full following the commencement of the legal proceedings, but said at [para 22-23]:
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Fair Work Ombudsman v G.Q. Industries Pty Ltd & Anor  FCCA 928 (24 April 2020)
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