The Federal Circuit Court imposed the penalty on UHY Sothertons Sydney Pty Ltd, a company which formerly operated a Sydney accounting firm, after finding it had failed to comply with a compliance notice issued by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) requiring it to calculate and back-pay entitlements owing those employees.
As a result, the court handed down a $28,350 fine against the company.
In addition to the penalty, the court has also ordered UHY Sothertons Sydney to comply with the compliance notice, which includes rectifying underpayments in full, plus superannuation and interest.
UHY Sothertons Sydney operated an accounting firm in Bondi Junction until it sold the business to another company in April 2019.
The company had employed the four employees, all of whom had their employment terminated when the business was sold.
Under the terms of the sale agreement, UHY Sothertons Sydney was responsible for paying out the employees’ final entitlements.
The FWO investigated after the employees lodged requests for assistance.
A Fair Work inspector issued the compliance notice after forming a belief that the employees had not been paid their accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements under the National Employment Standards.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said businesses that fail to act on compliance notices face court-imposed penalties in addition to having to back-pay any underpaid staff.
“Under the Fair Work Act, compliance notices are important tools used by inspectors if they form a belief that an employer has breached workplace laws,” Ms Parker said.
“We make every effort to secure voluntary compliance with compliance notices, but where they are not followed, we are prepared to take legal action to ensure workers receive their lawful entitlements.”