The case related to Google Ads from Employsure that appeared in response to terms used by small businesses, such as “fair work ombudsman”, featuring headlines including “Fair Work Ombudsman Help – Free 24/7 Employer Advice” and “Fair Work Commission Advice – Free Employer Advice”.
Employsure offers employment relations advice to small businesses and earns fees from customers signed up to contracts for advice.
In early October, the Federal Court found that the Google Ads were not misleading. The ACCC began proceedings against Employsure in December 2018.
The trial judge concluded it would be clear to a reasonable business owner that the search results were ads and not affiliated with the government, because they were marked with the word “Ad” and linked to a “.com”, not “.gov”, URL.
The court also found that the words “fair work” had a broad descriptive meaning and were not limited to government agencies.
However, the ACCC announced on 29 October it would appeal the decision.
“We have appealed this decision because we believe the judge made an error in finding that reasonable business consumers, including smaller and less sophisticated business owners, would not have been misled by the Google Ads,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.
“Employsure’s ads appeared when business consumers searched for ‘fair work ombudsman’ and ‘fair work australia helpline’.
“The ACCC considers that many businesses were likely to have conducted their searches when they were seeking urgent workplace advice from a government agency and, we will argue, many reasonable business consumers, including small businesses and less sophisticated business owners, were unlikely to have noted the small differences within the ads which were relied on by the judge to make his findings.”