The “accessorial liability” provisions under section 550 of the Fair Work Act (2009) find that if a person or company is involved in a breach of the act they can be held responsible. However, the laws can also hold third parties who are believed to be involved responsible as well. This means that human resources and payroll officers, line managers, accountants and advisors as well as companies contracted by the employer can also be held accountable and have penalties imposed on them.
The Fair Work Ombudsman recently used accessorial liability laws against a Victorian accounting firm, Ezy Accounting 123 who provided payroll services for its client, fast food operator Blue Impression, for knowingly helping to exploit a vulnerable worker. The consequences of the case were as follows:
- Ezy Accounting 123 was penalised $53,880 after it was found that it had facilitated underpayments by its client despite knowing the rates the worker was being paid were below lawful minimum wage.
- Blue Impression was penalised an additional $115,706 after admitting it underpaid two Taiwanese workers at its Japanese fast food outlet by almost $10,000.
- The contraventions also included a failure to pay evening loading, Saturday and Sunday loading, public holiday rates, a special clothing allowance and a failure to provide rest or meal breaks.
- Ezy Accounting was found to be involved in facilitating $750 of the underpayments relating to one of the workers.
Employers, contractors and individuals should be aware that contraventions regarding underpayment and exploitation of workers can result in serious penalties for not only the employer but anyone found to be involved in the matter.
For more information about accessorial liability and how we can help you safeguard against any possible contraventions, please contact us on (08) 9316 9896 or firstname.lastname@example.org.