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Australia – Workplace watchdog fines Westside Petroleum for underpaying 22 workers

09 October 2019

Australia’s workplace watchdog the Fair Work Ombudsman has secured penalties in Court against major service station chain Westside Petroleum and three of its management staff for underpaying 22 employees a total of AUD 62,393 (USD 42,080).

The Fair Work Ombudsman secured AUD 57,000 (USD 38,441) in penalties against Westside Petroleum.

The underpayments occurred at 12 petrol stations for periods between July 2015 and May 2016.

The underpayments were the result of Westside Petroleum generally paying employees unlawfully low, flat rates ranging from AUD 15 (USD 10.12) to AUD 25 (USD 16.86) an hour. This resulted in underpayment of employees’ casual weekday, weekend, public holiday and overtime rates under the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award. Inspectors audited Westside Petroleum following requests for assistance from employees.

The 22 affected service station workers were underpaid amounts ranging from AUD 347 (USD 234) to AUD 7,772 (USD 5,241), with four of the employees aged 19 at the time. Two affected workers were visa holders with one employee on a 489 regional sponsored visa. All employees have been back-paid in full.

Judge Robert Cameron found that the underpayments were deliberate and said they were “not insignificant”.

“It is unacceptable that Westside Petroleum focussed on the growth of its business and failed to have proper regard to very basic employer obligations,” Judge Cameron said. Judge Cameron ordered the company to provide its franchisees with information about workplace laws and display workplace notices providing information on workplace laws.

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