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Sydney research company faces court over sham contracting with disability workers

Karen Tan
04 June 2021 1 minute readShare
Fair Work Australia

The Bondi-based health and wellness research company, Doll House Training Pty Ltd, faces the Federal Court over the alleged sham contracting of three staff with disabilities.

The business conducts research into robotics, coding and artificial intelligence in the health and wellbeing space.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal proceedings against the business over an alleged breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 for threatening to terminate the workers’ employment in order to engage them as independent contractors to perform substantially the same work in October 2020.

It’s believed the company then misrepresented to the workers they would be engaged as independent contractors, where they required to submit invoices and provide Australian business numbers (ABNs) when they continued to be company employees.

The FWO also alleged the company failed to pay the workers in full, at least monthly, during their employment.

The office of the FWO investigated the matter after the three workers contacted the regulator for assistance.

Doll House Training employed the workers between August and October 2020. Their duties included research and preparing presentations in relation to how technology, like robotics, worked within the health and wellness industry.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator prioritises matters involving sham contracting.

“Enforcing the Fair Work Act’s prohibitions on sham contracting helps to protect the fundamental rights of employees. If businesses unlawfully misclassify workers, it can lead to them not being paid the wages and entitlements they are entitled to as employees,” Ms Parker said.

“Employers are urged to prioritise workplace law compliance, particularly how they engage their workers. Any employees or employers with concerns about their obligations or rights should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice and assistance.”

The FWO also alleged the company failed to comply with a Notice to Produce, issued by a Fair Work inspector, that required it to provide specific records or documents, including those that related to the terms of engagement and duties performed by the workers involved.

Doll House Training Pty Ltd faces maximum penalties of $66,600 per breach.

The company rectified payments owed to the workers last year.

A Federal Court directions hearing is yet to be scheduled.

Sydney research company faces court over sham contracting with disability workers
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Karen Tan

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