A Queensland transport company is facing court after allegedly underpaying four drivers by mis-classifying them as independent contractors, when they were in fact employees.
The Fair Work Ombudsman said it is cracking down on companies that rip off workers through sham contracting.
Drivers wore company uniforms & drove company vehicles
Boske Road Transport is facing the Federal Circuit Court, accused of underpaying the four drivers a total of $63,803.
They worked out of the company’s main depot at Slacks Creek in Brisbane to deliver packages across the city and long distances.
Fair Work alleges Boske deliberately engaged the four delivery drivers as independent contractors for various periods between March 2016 and August 2018.
The workers drove vans owned by the company, wore company uniforms and were required to work at days and times set by the company.
Fair Work Inspectors commenced an investigation into the company after receiving complaints from the workers.
What is an employment relationship?
Leading industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Fair Work Claims said companies engage in sham-contracting so they don’t have to pay proper wages and entitlements.
“If a company is paying a worker as an independent contractor, then they don’t have to pay things like holiday pay and sick pay and superannuation, so it can save them a lot of money,” he said.
It is alleged that Boske underpaid three of the drivers their hourly overtime rates and public holiday rates, and failed to pay any annual or personal leave.
The fourth worker was a long-distance driver and was allegedly underpaid through failures to pay for loading and unloading duties and to meet a cents-per-kilometre entitlement.
Alleged underpayments of the individual drivers ranged from $7,460 to $32,486.
Tell-tale signs of sham contracting
Mr Heffernan said there are tell-tale signs if a worker is being deliberately mis-classified.
“A worker is an independent contractor if they have their own vehicles and equipment, and set their own times of work, and they can even employ sub-contractors to help them complete jobs and projects,” he said.
“The minute workers are made to wear someone else’s company uniform with that company’s logos, and if they are driving that company’s vehicles – and critically, if that company is setting the times and days and conditions of work – then a worker will almost certainly be an employee, and should be classified as an employee, and they should be paid the proper wages and entitlements that go with that.”
In addition to penalties, Fair Work is seeking court orders requiring the company to rectify all underpayments with interest and pay all related superannuation entitlements.
A first directions hearing is listed in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane for 22 May, 2020.
If you have not been paid your proper wages and entitlements, or if you are being ripped off through a sham contract, we can help.
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1300 324 748
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Fair Work Claims is a private consultancy and advocacy firm with no affiliation to any government agency, commission or tribunal.