Lycamobile, a provider of mobile phone SIM cards, was issued the penalty after the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) accused it of underpaying an employee at its head office in Parramatta in Sydney’s west.
According to the FWO, the administrative worker was “routinely required to work more than 38 hours per week and performed work on Saturdays” during her employment between 2012 and 2015.
That, it said, made her eligible under the relevant industry award to be paid overtime pay – amounting to $5,264 – which had not been provided.
The FWO announced in November last year that it would take legal action against the company. At the time, it said the employee’s contract included the provision for “reasonable additional hours”.
Making matters worse for Lycamobile was that it had already been sanctioned by the FWO in 2013. In that instance, the business copped a $59,400 penalty for underpaying a total of 13 staff members in Brisbane and Adelaide by $28,034.
Hearing the matter in the Federal Circuit Court, Judge Sylvia Emmett claimed it was more “recklessness rather than mere accident” that Lycamobile had breached award rules – particularly in light of the fact it had already faced legal action for the same issue.
“I accept that a meaningful penalty is one that sends a message to employers and the public at large that repeat offending is serious and should be treated as such by the court,” Judge Emmett said.
Responding to the judgement, Ombudsman Sandra Parker said: “It is unacceptable for an employer to continue to underpay employee entitlements after being formally sanctioned by the Court.”
“This penalty sends a clear message that repeat breaches of workplace laws will be met with a serious response,” she said.
“Under Australia’s workplace laws, employers are legally obliged to pay employees their full minimum entitlements. The Fair Work Ombudsman is prepared to take enforcement action if a business disregards that obligation.”
Lycamobile has been contacted for comment.