An electrical contracting company that has failed to pay compensation to an employee who was unfairly dismissed is facing huge fines in the Federal Circuit Court, according to Employer Advisors.
Peter Burnitt and his Queensland-based Logan Electrical Services Division Pty Ltd could be hit with maximum penalties of $12,600 and $63,000 respectively, for failing to pay just $21,505 compensation to former employee Christopher Antonarakis, who was unfairly dismissed in 2017.
Miles Heffernan from Employer Advisors said Mr Burnitt and his company can expect heavy penalties, because courts do not look kindly on anyone who ‘gives the middle finger’ to the Fair Work Commission.
“An order is an order, it is not a discretionary component, so if a commission orders you to pay – you pay,” he said.
In a remarkably similar case, Mr Heffernan represented a Townsville-based trainee restaurant worker, who’s employer refused to pay $17,951 compensation awarded to her by the Fair Work Commission after she was unfairly dismissed.
In a scathing judgement, Judge Salvatore Vasta in the Federal Circuit Court threw the book at her boss George Koloubius, and his company South Townsville Operations Pty Ltd, penalising them more than $60,000, in addition to making them pay the outstanding compensation with interest and also the employee’s legal fees.
“So thanks to this manager’s arrogance, an initial bill of $17,951 blew out to more than $80,000 because he decided to ignore the Commission’s orders,” Mr Heffernan said.
In another case, the Fair Work Ombudsman successfully prosecuted Melbourne-based World Gym Sunshine Pty Ltd, and its director Wayne Mailing, for failing to pay just $2,200 to a former employee.
They ended up having to pay a penalty of almost $50,000.
Employer Advisors warns all companies that they must follow the directions and orders of courts, commissions and tribunals, because if you don’t, the courts will be all too happy to teach you a lesson.
“The courts have demonstrated that they are not shy in punishing those who choose to ignore orders made by the commission,” Mr Heffernan said.
“The lesson for employers is that you cannot ignore orders from any court, tribunal or commission – if you are having trouble meeting your obligations, it is vital that you communicate with the relevant authority at all times, otherwise you are literally going to end up being penalised way more than you ever owed in the first place.”
The case against Logan Electrical Services Division is listed for a directions hearing in the Brisbane Federal Circuit Court next month.
If you are having trouble managing an employee or are facing a claim of unfair dismissal, we can help. Please call our friendly staff at Employer Advisors on 1300 853 837 for expert and confidential advice.
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