A farming waste company that short-changed staff on overtime and weekend penalty rates has been forced to back pay its workers and overhaul its workplace practices.
Downes Rice Hulls based in Deniliquin in southern New South Wales has been told by the Fair Work Ombudsman to hand back $94,000 to 16 truck drivers.
The Fair Work action followed an earlier investigation into a worker employed out of the company’s Leeton depot who was underpaid by $50,856 between 2011 and 2014.
An audit found the worker was underpaid on his base rate and rates for overtime, night shift work, Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday.
The company was also accused of failing to pay annual leave loading to workers and contravening record-keeping regulations under the Waste Management Award.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the latest case of employee underpayments was a reminder that companies needed to ensure they paid minimum entitlements to their staff.
“We are committed to helping employers rectify their non-compliance issues, but business operators need to make an effort to get the basics right in the first place,” Ms James said in a statement.
A broader investigation found that another 15 full-time or casual workers had been underpaid $43,138 between January and March last year.
Downes Rice Hulls is the latest company to be ordered to back pay underpaid workers following action against franchisees for Pizza Hut and the 7-Eleven convenience chain.
An investigation earlier this year by Fair Work found that in an audit of 34 Pizza Hut franchisees, 24 were found to be breaching workplace laws and obligations to delivery drivers.
Last week, a Pizza Hut franchise in Newcastle was ordered to repay almost $20,000 to workers, mainly aged between 16 and 20, who had been paid under a superseded award between November 2015 and May 2016.
Downes Rice Hulls has been ordered to rectify all underpayments within 12 months and to ensure all managers undertake staff training on their workplace obligations.
The ABC has contacted Downes Rice Hulls for comment.
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