THE Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against a major national cleaning contractor after workers were allegedly underpaid thousands of dollars.
Melbourne-based cleaning services company Pioneer Personnel Pty Ltd and its sole director Aaron Leigh Dickinson, are in the firing line after allegedly short-changing nine employees it supplied to clean Myer stores across Australia.
The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Pioneer Personnel underpaid nine employees, including a number of migrant workers from non-English speaking backgrounds, more than $18,000 between April and November 2014.
If the Fair Work Ombudsman's allegations are accepted by the Court, the agency will seek penalties against Pioneer Personnel and Dickinson.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the alleged contraventions were discovered as part of investigations into a number of cleaning contractors engaged by Myer.
"The Fair Work Ombudsman has for some time held concerns about the workplace practices of cleaning contractors engaged by Myer at various sites," says James.
Last year, the Agency entered enforceable undertakings with two cleaning sub-contractors working at Myer sites that were found to be misclassifying workers and underpaying them.
The Fair Work Ombudsman says it has held a number of meetings with Myer and expressed ongoing concerns about the employees of cleaning contractors engaged by Myer.
James says her agency is committed to working with major national employers to help them put processes in place to ensure all workers in their workplaces, including those employed by contractors, are not being exploited.
"Outsourcing is a legitimate business arrangement," says James.
"But in my experience, in highly competitive markets for low-skilled work, it also increases the risk that workers will be underpaid, sometimes quite deliberately."
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