Almost $100k in Penalties After Caltex Franchisee Falsified Wage Records
The importance of good record keeping and honest record keeping was again emphasized by the FWO. In a recent case, penalties of almost $100,000 against a former Caltex franchisee in Sydney for falsifying wage records sending a message that serious consequences apply when fabricated records frustrate investigations, according to Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.
Peter Dagher and his company Aulion Pty Ltd, who formerly operated the Caltex Five Dock service station in inner-western Sydney, have been penalised $16,038 and $80,190 respectively after admitting falsifying records of the wage rates paid to migrant workers.
The penalties, which are 90 per cent of the possible maximums, are the result of legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman in the Federal Circuit Court.
The penalties are also the highest the Fair Work Ombudsman has secured in a legal action relating solely to record-keeping and pay slip breaches.
Ms James says the fact that Courts are demonstrating they are prepared to issue near maximum penalties for serious record-keeping contraventions serves as a major warning, given that new laws have now significantly increased sanctions for serious record-keeping breaches.
The new sanctions apply to conduct that has occurred since the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 came into effect in September 2017.
“The breaches by this Caltex franchisee occurred in 2016 – but if this same conduct occurred today, the possible sanctions available in Court would be even more significant,” Ms James warned.
“Financial penalties for failing to keep records and issue pay slips have significantly increased and any unscrupulous employer that frustrates a Fair Work Ombudsman time-and-wages investigation by using false records can now face prosecution in criminal court.
“A reverse onus of proof can also now apply, meaning that employers who don't meet record-keeping or pay slip obligations and can't give a reasonable excuse will need to disprove allegations of underpayments made in a court.”