Legal action has been launched against a franchisee of fuel giant Caltex for allegedly falsifying wage records, following the discovery of inconsistencies provided by the company and its accountant.
Caltex franchisee Peter Dagher and his company Aulion, who operate the Caltex Five Dock service station in Sydney’s inner west, will face the Federal Circuit Court on 21 December after an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) as part of a proactive compliance activity involving audits of 15 Caltex service stations nationally.
The FWO issued Aulion with Notices to Produce and Mr Dagher and the company provided a range of documents, including contracts of employment time-and-wages records, pay slips and earnings summaries for six overseas workers.
Concerned that the documents provided did not accurately reflect the wage rates the company had paid to employees, the FWO issued further Notices to Produce to a bank, a superannuation fund and Aulion’s accountant.
However, the information contained in these documents was inconsistent with information that had previously been provided by Mr Dagher and his company.
The FWO alleges that the reason for this inconsistency is that Mr Dagher and his company falsified documents and records and unlawfully made use of them by providing them to the Ombudsman.
It is alleged that Mr Dagher and his company also contravened laws requiring employers to issue employees with accurate pay slips within one day of payday.
Further, the absence of accurate time-and-wages records prevented the FWO from completing a full audit to determine whether employees at Caltex Five Dock had been paid their full lawful entitlements.
“The maximum penalties available for some serious conduct that occurs today or in the future are now significantly higher than the penalties available to be imposed in matters such as this one, where the allegedly contravening conduct pre-dates the commencement of the act,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.
If found guilty, Mr Dagher will face maximum penalties of up to $3,600 per contravention, while his business will face penalties of up to $18,000 for every breach.