A labour-hire company has been penalised $22,440 after underpaying 80 workers on a Queensland mushroom farm. Eighty workers were underpaid a total of $78,664 over eight months during 2014 on the mushroom farm in Stapylton.

The penalty is delivered by the Federal Court to Ms Tao Hu the owner-operator of HRS Country labour-hire before its liquidation in 2016. The penalty will be distributed by the Fair Work Ombudsman to the workers to partially rectify their underpayment.

While on the farm, workers some of which were migrants and visa holders, were underpaid a flat rate of $16.37 per hour. This rate was insufficient under the Horticultural Award as it did not meet the minimum hourly rate or include casual loading, and public holiday rates. Workers also were not given the paid rest breaks they were entitled too.

This underpayment was discovered during the Harvest Trail Inquiry. Horticulture and other agricultural industries are of particular concern to Fair Work as they employ significant numbers of vulnerable workers. Therefore, it is important these workers receive full lawful wages and entitlements. This case is a warning to other farm and agricultural businesses of the penalty’s owners can face if they underpay their staff.

For assistance determining the rate of pay for workers on your farm contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au.

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