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Hungry Jack’s prosecuted for breaching employer duties

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The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has launched a prosecution against Hungry Jack’s Pty Ltd for allegedly underpaying its Tasmanian employees $665,695 between March 2006 and August 2008.  The FWO alleges that Hungry Jack’s paid the workers according to rates contained in an unregistered agreement it made with the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees’ Association.

It is claimed Hungry Jack’s failure to register the agreement meant that it underpaid employees’ minimum hourly rates, penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and overtime work, annual leave entitlements, minimum engagement pay and casual loadings.

While the alleged underpayments average just under $1000 per employee, the FWO says more than 30 were underpaid more than $4000 each and the highest individual underpayment was $10,000.

Despite Hungry Jacks already making $904,000 in back-payments to current and former employees in April 2009, the FWO alleges Hungry Jack’s committed at least a dozen breaches of workplace law in relation to the alleged underpayments and is accordingly pursuing the imposition of fines. The maximum penalty is $33,000 per breach.

It is also alleged Hungry Jack’s committed a further breach by failing to keep employment records in accordance with workplace laws. The maximum penalty is $5,500 in respect of each of these breaches.

The date of the first hearing will be 1 July 2010 at the Federal Magistrates’ Court.

MST Recommendations to avoid similar prosecution

  • Develop regular audit procedures to inspect company record keeping practices and payment of wages.
  • Do not forget that all employees have the right to complain to the FWO at any time during or after their employment, and that investigations may ensue.
  • Seek proper legal advice if you are unsure about your obligations under relevant workplace relations laws.

MST has experience in assisting its clients to address these issues. Please contact one of our Workplace Relations lawyer for further information.

Author:  Chao Ni