The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is taking action against a kids clothing retailer for major misconduct in the workplace.
Blue Sky Kids Land, which operates children’s clothing stores in Sydney and Canberra, allegedly underpaid four workers more than $140,000 and breached Protecting Vulnerable Worker laws, including committing serious contraventions and hindering or obstructing Fair Work inspectors.
FWO, Sandra Parker, says that increased maximum penalties were brought in following community concerns about worker exploitation in Australia.
“Employers are on notice that the Fair Work Ombudsman is making full use of the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws to ensure that any individuals or companies who commit serious contraventions are held to account,” she says.
It is alleged that some of the contraventions–relating to record-keeping failures, non-issuing of pay slips and paying rates as low as $10 an hour–are serious contraventions under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers laws.
It is the first time the regulator has alleged a breach of the new provision of hindering or obstructing a Fair Work Inspector. It is alleged that during the Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation, Blue Sky Kids Land and the owner ordered a Canberra store be closed so that inspectors could not conduct a site visit.
It is also alleged that the company obstructed an inspector by ordering the deletion of timesheets.
“We remind employers that maximum penalties for serious contraventions of workplace laws are $630,000 per breach for a company and $126,000 for an individual, 10-times the penalties which would ordinarily apply, and urge them to contact us for free advice and assistance.”
In addition to penalties, the FWO is seeking a court order requiring Blue Sky Kids Land to back-pay the four workers in full.