A person involved in another party’s contravention of the Fair Work Act can be held jointly liable for the contravention. Broadly, to be ‘involved’ in the contravention, the person must have knowledge of the facts of the contravention and must be an intentional participant in the contravention. A court can award financial penalties against the involved person, being a maximum of $10,800 for individuals or $54,000 for corporations. This is available for each contravention.
In the recent case of Fair Work Ombudsman v Blue Impression Pty Ltd, the employer (Blue Impression) had underpaid its staff working in Japanese-style restaurants. Blue Impression’s external payroll managers were also involved in the contravention because they wilfully ignored specialist advice that there was an underpayment. The Court held that the payroll managers “had at their fingertips all the necessary information” to be aware of the contravention and continued to ignore the underpayments “with the inevitable result that the…breaches occurred.” The matter will reappear before the Court to determine appropriate penalties. If you have any enquiries regarding this please do not hesitate to contact any member of our employment law team.