GOLD COAST business Step Ahead Security Services has been slugged with a record fine of $308,000 in Federal Circuit Court for underpaying employees.
Judge Michael Jarrett ordered owner Owen Ivor Jennings to personally back-pay eight security guards a total of $22,779 for work completed over three months in 2014.
The Fair Work Ombudsman initiated the legal proceedings and secured its highest penaly in Queensland, with Jennings fined $51,400 and Step Ahead a further $257,000.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully says Jennings wound up the company to avoid paying employee entitlements.
He says Jennings also deregistered an earlier security company following underpayment complaints.
"Unfortunately, there are some rogue business operators who think they can short-change their staff and get away with it by liquidating their companies and hiding behind a corporate veil," Scully says.
"So they should think again, as we will seek to hold them to account at every available opportunity.
"We are committed to building a culture of compliance with workplace laws in Australia and creating a level playing field for employers who are doing the right thing and meeting their workplace obligations."
Jennings paid flat rates which undercut the terms and conditions of the Security Services Industry Award and ignored multiple warnings from Fair Work dating back to 2006.
Judge Jarrett ordered that 25 per cent of Jennings' penalty be suspended, unless he is caught underpaying employees again within the next five years.
An injunction restraining Jennings from underpaying security industry workers in the future has also been imposed, putting him at risk of contempt of court proceedings.
Fair Work has recovered more than $520,000 for underpaid workers nationally in the past three years.
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