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North Queenslander Sentenced to Jail in Fair Work Prosecution

By Michelle Morton

22nd May 2018

The Director of a Cairns based employer has been sentenced to a 12-month jail term and fined $84,956 following unprecedented action taken by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

In June 2015, the sole Director of a Company that employed several backpackers in a tour operating business was personally ordered to pay a penalty of $12,000 for his involvement in failing to correctly pay 5 employees.

The Company, as the employer, was ordered to pay a penalty of $55,000 and back pay the employees in full.

The Fair Work Ombudsman obtained a freezing order against the Company’s accounts after it failed to pay these amounts by the Court’s due date.

Despite the freezing order, the Director transferred $41,035 from two of the Company’s frozen accounts into his family trust account.

The Fair Work Ombudsman took further Court action against the Director, claiming he had defied the freezing order by transferring the amounts.

The Court found the Director was guilty of being in contempt of its orders and sentenced him to a 12-month jail term and ordered him to pay a further fine of $84,956.

The Director has since filed an appeal and his jail term has been suspended pending its outcome.

This is the first time that the Fair Work Ombudsman has pursued a contempt of court case and appears to be part of increased efforts to take action against not only those who are employers, but also those who are involved in contraventions of workplace laws.

For advice in relation to any employment law queries, please contact Michelle Morton or Sally McCutcheon of our office.

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