News & Security Advice

National

FWO employer guide to family and domestic violence

The new guide helps employers understand their responsibilities towards employees experiencing family and domestic violence. It also helps them develop a workplace response to managing family and domestic violence.

Download Guide

National Centre for Vocational Education Research Report – ‘Do course durations matter to training quality and outcomes?

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has released the attached report entitled ‘Do course durations matter to training quality and outcomes?

NCVER Report

 

FWO Penalty for underpayment of Sydney security guards

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured a penalty of $39,090 against a former Sydney security company operator for underpaying dozens of security guards.

The Federal Circuit Court imposed the penalty on Sydney man John Lohr, who formerly operated Brookvale-based companies Safecorp Security Pty Ltd and Safecorp Security Group Pty Ltd. The companies are no longer operating.

Mr Lohr was involved in the companies, underpaying 45 security guards employed on a casual basis at various sites a total of $35,540.84.

The underpayments were largely the result of the guards being paid flat hourly rates of $20 to $25, which at times did not cover their casual loadings, weekend, night work, overtime and public holiday entitlements.

The Court has ordered that the penalty be used to repay affected guards.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said employers who pay unlawfully low flat rates risk facing court action.

“The use of low, flat rates that undercut lawful minimums has been a persistent problem in the security industry and employers in this sector need to get the message that it is completely unacceptable,” Ms Parker said.

Judge Nicholas Manousaridis found that Mr Lohr was aware an Award applied to employees of the Safecorp Security companies but decided to pay the employees flat rates, not knowing whether the rates would be sufficient to meet Award obligations.

This resulted in underpayment of the penalty rates as well as underpayment of casual loadings and a broken shift allowance under the Securities Services Industries Award 2010. The biggest underpayment of an individual employee was $9,756.

The Fair Work Ombudsman discovered the underpayments when it investigated complaints lodged by employees. Pay slip laws were also contravened

Judge Manousaridis described Mr Lohr’s decision to pay flat rates as “reckless” and said there was no evidence he had taken corrective action, exhibited contrition or cooperated to any significant degree with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“The penalty should be set to signal to employers generally the importance of complying with the Fair Work Act and with complying with awards that cover them and their employees,” Judge Manousaridis said.

New Award Pay Guides from 1 July 2109

The pay guides have the current minimum pay rates for full-time, part-time and casual employees in an award. They apply from 1 July 2019. They also include all the monetary allowances and the most frequently used penalty rates for each classification.

Security Services Industry Award 2010 [MA000016] Pay Guide

Transport (Cash in Transit) Award 2010 [MA000042] Pay Guide

Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2010 [MA000025] Pay Guide  

New Security Award Pay Guides from 1 July 2019

The pay guides have the current minimum pay rates for full-time, part-time and casual employees in an award. They apply from 1 July 2019. They also include all the monetary allowances and the most frequently used penalty rates for each classification.

Security Services Industry Award 2010 [MA000016] Pay Guide

Transport (Cash in Transit) Award 2010 [MA000042] Pay Guide

Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2010 [MA000025] Pay Guide  

Fair Work Ombudsman – Commonwealth Games security guards underpaid

Ten security guards from the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have received more than $24,000 in unpaid wages, following a Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) audit of security providers for the event.

The FWO conducted the audits in response to requests for assistance from security guards who were concerned about receiving their correct pay and entitlements.

Security arrangements for the Commonwealth Games were contracted out by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation to four principal providers who in turn used sub-contractors to provide security for the 11-day event. This formed what is known as a labour supply chain.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the FWO audited nine employers providing security services to the games, including principal providers and sub-contractors, and found none were compliant with workplace laws.

“The consistent issue we discovered was guards not being paid until well after they had completed their shifts. In some instances, guards had to wait months to get paid properly. This was a breach of employers’ obligations under the Fair Work Act to pay their employees on time,” Ms Parker said.

“The delays were caused by shortcomings in the electronic record keeping system used to record work hours, which meant guards’ shifts had to be manually reconciled before they could be paid.”

The FWO also found two security providers failed to properly pay overtime, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, which led to the underpayments for ten guards. Three of the audited security providers also did not keep proper employment records or provide correct pay slips.

In addition to recovering lost wages for affected guards, the FWO issued: four Infringement Notices, totalling $12,600 in penalties for record-keeping and pay slip breaches; contravention letters to all the audited businesses that required them to take action to rectify their non-compliance; and one Formal Caution, putting a security provider on notice about possible legal action for any future breaches.

“Large-scale events can provide challenges for some businesses to ensure they are properly meeting their lawful workplace obligations. It’s vital they recognise and plan around this complexity to ensure their staff are paid in full and on time,” Ms Parker said.

“Ensuring workers in labour supply chains get their correct pay and entitlements is a priority area for the FWO and businesses can expect more compliance and enforcement action in this area.”

Minimum Wage Review 2018-19

The Fair Work Commission has announced a 3.0% increase to minimum wages following its 2019 Annual Wage Review.

The increase applies to the base pay rates from the first full pay period starting on or after  1 July 2019

SPAAL will provide members with  the new Award pay guides when published by the Fair Work Commission.

ATO Tax deduction information for security workers

Designed to publish on your company website or display in staff rooms, this handy one-page poster outlines what security workers can and can’t claim at Tax Time.

Security workers work-related expenses poster

The following how-to guides describe what steps security workers need to take to correctly claim a range of common deductions. They are useful references to have on-hand not just during Tax Time but throughout the year, and help workers keep good records when making work-related purchases.

National Labour Hire Registration Scheme recommended for the Security Industry

The Migrant Workers’ Taskforce was established as part of the Government’s response to the revelation of significant wage underpayments in certain industry sectors.

The Government has accepted in principle the establishment of a National Labour Hire Registration Scheme for the security industry which was named as one of the four high risk industry sectors. The report's recommendations include extending criminal penalties for serious breaches of the Fair Work Act.and accessorial liability rules currently in place for franchisors be extended to "also cover situations where businesses contract out services to persons".

The National Labour Hire Registration Scheme would be an industry-specific, ‘light touch’ regulatory model to provide government with an important tool to better direct the enforcement of current laws by the existing regulators of labour hire operators. It would act as a form of negative licensing to prohibit labour hire businesses that contravene relevant laws from operating. Critically, it would complement other new and existing government measures that address the drivers of workplace exploitation.

The objectives of the Scheme should be to:

  • gain visibility and accountability of labour hire operators operating in high-risk sectors
  • extend accountability to hosts
  • provide a means for government to encourage compliance and behavioural change
  • reduce exploitation of vulnerable workers by labour hire operators and in supply chains.

Migrant Workers’ Taskforce Report

ACCC commences court proceedings against Employsure for misleading advertising and unconscionable conduct allegations

Civil proceedings have been instituted against employment relations company Employsure Pty Ltd for allegedly misleading small business consumers that it was, or was affiliated with, a government agency when that was not the case.

It is also alleged that Employsure represented to consumers that it provided a helpline for free workplace relations advice, when the primary function of that helpline was to secure marketing leads to sell its services.

The ACCC alleges that Employsure engaged in the misleading conduct, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law, through its use of Google Ads campaigns and on its websites between January 2016 and November 2018.

Employsure’s Google ads featured headlines such as ‘Fair Work Ombudsman Help – Free 24/7 Employer Advice’ and ‘Fair Work Commission Advice – Free Employer Advice’. The ads were designed to appear in response to search terms such as ‘fair work ombudsman’ and ‘fair work australia helpline’ that consumers use when searching online to get employment relations advice from government agencies.

Employsure’s websites also prominently advertised call centre phone numbers for a ‘Helpline’ that provides free advice.

“The ACCC alleges that Employsure targeted small businesses who were seeking the free workplace relations helpline operated by the Government. Its primary objective was to sign these businesses up to long-term contracts with on-going fees,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“In some cases, the advice sought by these businesses was available free of charge from the Fair Work Ombudsman.”

“Business must not claim they provide free, government affiliated services in order to lure customers into buying their services,” Ms Court said.

The ACCC also alleges that Employsure engaged in unconscionable conduct towards four small businesses between August 2015 and June 2018.

These small businesses contacted Employsure’s call centre after searching Google for the Fair Work Ombudsman or a related government agency. The individuals believed they were speaking with someone from, or associated with, a government agency and agreed to a meeting with Employsure’s staff on this basis.

During these meetings, the ACCC alleges that Employsure’s staff emphasised the risks faced by the individuals including the possibility of fines or being sued by employees, in order to convince them that its services were necessary, pressuring the individuals to sign up to long-term contracts for a significant fee.

The ACCC also alleges that during the period November 2016 to at least October 2018, Employsure’s contracts contained unfair terms, including terms that made it difficult for small businesses to exit the long term contracts.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, consumer redress orders for the four small businesses, corrective publication and compliance orders, and costs.

Release number:
280/18
ACCC Infocentre:

Use this form to make a general enquiry.

Media enquiries:
Media team - 1300 138 917

New Fair Work regulation clarifies offsetting rules for casual loading payments

Employers who incorrectly classify employees as casual instead of full-time or part-time could be responsible for back paying various entitlements under the National Employment Standards (NES), following a recent Federal Court of Australia decision in Workpac v Skene [2018] FCAFC 131

However, the Government has varied the Fair Work Regulations 2009 to clarify that employers, in certain circumstances, may claim that an employee's casual loading payments should be offset against certain NES entitlements owing to the employee.

This regulation comes into effect on 18 December 2018.

How does the new regulation work?

The new regulation applies where all of the following criteria are met:

  •  an employee is employed by their employer on a casual basis.
  •  the employee is paid a casual loading that is clearly identifiable as being an amount paid to compensate the person in lieu of entitlements that casual employees are not entitled to under the NES, such as personal or annual leave.
  • despite being classified by the employer as a casual, the employee was in fact a full-time or part-time employee for some or all of their employment for the purposes of the NES.
  •  the employee has made a claim to be paid for one or more of the NES entitlements (that casual employees do not have) that they didn't receive for all or some of the time that they were incorrectly classified as a casual.

If all of these points are satisfied, an employer can make a claim to have the casual loading payments made to the employee taken into account when working out the entitlements owing to the employee for the relevant NES entitlements.

The new regulation applies to employment periods that occurred before, or that occurred on or after, 18 December 2018.

Visit the Federal Register of Legislation to read the Fair Work Amendment (Casual Loading Offset) Regulations 2018