Melbourne food business cops $54,000 fine for underpayments

Posted by James Ferre on 13th November 2009

The operators of a Melbourne food company have been fined a total of $54,000 for underpaying a delivery truck driver more than $32,000.

The penalties are the result of a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrate Franz Holzer imposed a fine of $37,000 against Olara Pty Ltd and $2000 against Exofun Pty Ltd. A director of both companies, Harry Friedman, of North Caulfield, was also fined $15,000 for his involvement.

The two companies were involved in a Moorabbin business – Exclusive Food Houses – importing and distributing specialist foods.

Olara admitted underpaying the driver a total of $30,462 when it employed him between 2003 and 2008. The driver was paid a flat rate of $11.17 when he should have been paid between $12.63 and $15.03 an hour.

Exofun admitted underpaying the driver a total of $1798 when it employed him between June and October 2008. Similarly, it paid him a flat rate of $11.25 when he should have received $15.60.

The companies back-paid the driver the money owed after being contacted by inspectors investigating the matter.

Fair Work Ombudsman Victorian Director Paul Werner says the case serves as a warning to companies and individuals to ensure they are meeting their lawful obligations to staff.

“We take significant underpayments of low-paid workers particularly seriously and so to do the courts,” Mr Werner noted.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fwo.gov.au.