Hungry Jack’s ordered to pay more than $760,000 in back pay to staff and fines
On 12 April 2011, the Federal Magistrates’ Court in Melbourne handed out fines totalling $100,500 to Hungry Jack’s Pty Ltd, in addition to finding that the company had underpaid approximately 700 of its staff amounts totalling about $666,000.
These underpayments related to several of Hungry Jack’s Tasmanian retail stores.
In this case, Hungry Jack’s Pty Ltd erroneously believed that it had been correctly paying staff pursuant to a certified agreement that had been previously struck between the company and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA). In fact, the agreement had not been certified by the then Australian Industrial Relations Commission, a necessary pre-condition to its operation.
This decision closely follows a FWO investigation involving Toys”‘R”Us that resulted in the company making back payments to about 1,000 of its staff totalling approx. $1 million and pledging an additional $300,000 donation to fund the cost of educating and training young and vulnerable people
In that case, Toys”R”Us had, again, erroneously believed that they had been correctly paying staff pursuant to Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) that, in fact, had not been registered.
Lessons to be learned
First and foremost, an employer must ensure that:
- it is fully aware of what industrial instrument(s) applies to its workplace, whether it be modern awards or registered workplace agreement, and
- it correctly pays its staff in accordance with that industrial instrument(s).
MST offers a fixed price audit solution in assisting employers in understanding their obligations in this regard.
Please contact one of our Workplace Relations lawyers for further information.
Author: Herbert Fischbacher