Repairer in court for alleged underpayment

Public news

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has commenced legal action against the former operator of a Melbourne-based automotive repair and service business.

Facing court is C & G Smith Enterprises Pty Ltd, which formerly operated a Rapid Tune franchise outlet in Keysborough, in Melbourne’s south-east.

The regulator began an investigation after receiving a request for assistance from a worker employed by C & G Smith Enterprises as a motor mechanic on a full-time basis between October 2019 and October 2020.

A Fair Work Inspector issued a Compliance Notice to C & G Smith Enterprises in April 2021 after forming a belief the worker had not been paid all entitlements owed under the National Employment Standards and the Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award 2020.

It is alleged the worker was underpaid the full-time minimum wage and was not paid his accrued but untaken annual leave on termination of his employment.

The FWO alleges C & G Smith Enterprises, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with the Compliance Notice, which required the calculation and back-payment of the worker’s outstanding entitlements.

Sandra Parker of the FWO said the regulator would continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and take business operators to court where lawful requests are not complied with.

“Where employers do not comply, we will take appropriate action to protect employees. A court can order a business to pay penalties in addition to back-paying workers,” Ms Parker said.

“Any employees with concerns about their pay or entitlements should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free assistance.”

The FWO is seeking penalties against C & G Smith Enterprises Pty Ltd. The company faces a maximum penalty of up to $33,300 for failing to comply with the Compliance Notice.

The regulator is also seeking an order for the company to comply with the Compliance Notice, which includes rectifying any underpayments in full, plus interest and superannuation.

A directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court in Melbourne on 20 October 2021.

NOTE: Rapid Tune Keysborough now has new operators. The FWO makes no allegations against the current operators of the business.

This is a good reminder that the motor trade industry is not immune to underpayment claims, and if underpayments have occurred, members may be subject to prosecution by the Fair Work Commission. If you receive any notices or enquiries from the FWO, contact the WR team to assist, on 8291 2000 or at wr@mtasant.com.au.