Fair Work Ombudsman spokeswoman Natalie James.
Fair Work Ombudsman spokeswoman Natalie James. Contributed

Claims worker ripped off $11K

A BUNDABERG-based transport company is facing legal action after allegedly underpaying an employee more than $11,000 during a nine-month period.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has started legal action against Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport Pty Ltd, which transports refrigerated farm produce to various destinations across Australia, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

It is alleged the company underpaid a clerical employee in Bundaberg a total of $11,451 between October 2014 and July 2015.

Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport allegedly paid the employee a flat hourly rate of $23, despite her being entitled to ordinary hourly rates of up to $26.09 as a casual employee, up to $41.74 for overtime and weekend work, and up to $52.18 on public holidays under the company's enterprise agreement.

The company allegedly contravened workplace laws by underpaying annual leave entitlements, failing to provide the employee with the terms of her employment in writing, and failing to provide a Fair Work Information Statement when she started work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated after the employee lodged a request for help.

Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport has now back-paid the employee in full.

It is alleged the underpayment happened despite the Fair Work Ombudsman previously informing the company about its obligation to pay minimum lawful entitlements when investigating underpayment allegations from other workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman spokeswoman Natalie James said the fact the company had been put on notice to comply was a significant factor in the decision to start legal action.

"We allege that this business has demonstrated an attitude of disregard for its employment obligations, despite having been formerly placed on notice by my agency that it was not paying workers correctly," Ms James said.

Bundaberg Refrigerated Transport faces maximum penalties of $54,000 per contravention.

The matter has been referred to the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane on August 3.

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