Telecommunications provider Lycamobile has been ordered to pay $25,000 in penalties after underpaying an administrative employee by more than $5,000.
Lycamobile is the Australian arm of a global mobile virtual network business headquartered in the UK, with the company employing 22 people locally.
The contraventions subject to a 29 August Federal Circuit Court ruling took place between May 2012 and November 2015 and were in respect to penalty rates for hours worked on Saturdays.
Specifically, Lycamobile paid an annual base salary of $33,867 plus arrears and allowances of $11,472. However, the valued required for extra hours worked should have been $16,736.
In November 2017, the Fair Work Ombudsman issued a statement saying it had initiated legal action against Lycamobile for the second time.
At the time, acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said the decision to take legal action was made because of the retail giant’s alleged failure to put in place adequate corrective processes after a 2013 penalty decision, which related to underpayments to staff in Adelaide and Brisbane.
In that decision Lycamobile had been penalised $59,400 for underpaying 13 workers.
The Ombudsman this time sought a greater penalty because Lycamobile was re-offending after already having been subject to legal sanction.
According to court documents lodged as part of its recent action, the Fair Work Ombudsman claimed the payments for additional time worked on Saturdays by the employee were insufficient to meet the entitlement to overtime rates.
"The applicant [Fair Work Ombudsman] contends that a total penalty in the range of $29,760.00 to $38,160.00 is a meaningful penalty in light of the 2013 decision, the respondent’s reckless disregard of its obligations, the involvement of senior management in the contraventions and the strong need for general and specific deterrence," Judge Sylvia Emmett said during the proceedings.
"The applicant accepts that a discount should apply for the respondent’s [Lycamobile] cooperation and corrective action.
"The applicant submits that 20 per cent is an appropriate discount to be applied to the relevant maximum penalty."
Emmett also said that it was a concern that United Kingdom management of the respondent may have been unaware of the details of the 2013 decision prior to the Ombudsman’s investigation of this matter.
"It is completely unacceptable for a company that has been the subject of adverse court findings and a civil penalty for non-compliance with workplace laws, to fail to disseminate that information about the outcome to key decision makers; and further fail to ensure that education about, and compliance with, workplace laws be placed front and centre of the business practices. Such is the minimum standard of an employer’s responsibility to its employees," Judge Emmett said.
"In the circumstances, I am satisfied that a total penalty of $25,000.00 should be imposed on the Respondent and paid into consolidated revenue."
ARN has contacted Lycamobile for comment.