A company in South Australia has been fined $29,790 in total, by the Adelaide Federal Circuit Court. The Fair Work Ombudsman declared that two men from the state accepted a job as a sales representative with a property company, but were not properly paid . The company is Longridge Group Pty Ltd, which is located in Adelaide, and deals with residential properties.
They had been advertising the position as having a salary potential of $120,000 and more. However, the first man left the position after 10 months, when he had only earned $7,000. After the first man left, another man accepted a job with the company, believing that his earning potential would be above $70,000 annually. After six months had passed, he left when he had not been paid a thing.
Longridge Group was given the fine after the Fair Work Ombudsman took legal action against them. The company had been paying the men with nothing but commission, in the years of 2011 and 2012. They admitted that this had been the case. This arrangement resulted in the men being underpaid a combined total of $24,956, which would have been the minimum award payments.
The company had refused to pay the two men their owed back-pay. This is when the courts had to become involved. Since then, the company only admitted to underpaying the men without knowledge. The Judge in the case said that the failure to fully pay the men lead to each of them relying on their wives respectively, for financial support. The Judge also found the company to be unaware of the miscellaneous award, which was applicable to the two men. However, the judge found that the company should have known that the men were receiving far lower salaries than other salespeople.
The modern award system is in place to ensure that there is a minimum wage for such employees, no matter what their sales are like. It works as a safety net, and is intended to prevent things like this from happening. Longridge had also failed to maintain proper records for its employees. This was found to be a large breach of the workplace laws in Australia. The company admitted that they had no acceptable excuse for this. Such records would have allowed regulatory officials, like the ombudsman, to do their job properly.
When the judge decided the amount that Longridge would be fined, he states that “The penalty must be sufficient to convey the message to other employers of the importance of adherence to applicable modern awards in their payment of employees.” This explains the additional payments that were required, on top the back-pay. It is fairly obvious that the company had no reasonable excuse for not paying the men what they were lawfully owed. This is a good example of employees being treated unfairly, on the most fundamental level in the workplace. The two employees were not at fault for failing to secure what they were owed, and this is an important point for employers to observe.