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Construction company faces court, young apprentices short-changed $32K

15 December, 2016

A Queensland building and construction company and its director are facing court over allegations they short-changed two young apprentices more than $32,000.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has filed proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane against Brendan Paul Angus and his company G.Q. Industries Pty Ltd.

It is alleged Angus and his company underpaid two young apprentice carpenters $32,450 for work performed on construction sites in Brisbane between September 2013 and June 2015.

The full-time apprentices, who were aged between 17 and 20 at the time, usually worked six days per week and regularly did overtime.

It is alleged the underpayments arose from G.Q. Industries' failure to pay a range of minimum entitlements under the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 that the apprentices were entitled to.

This allegedly included some of the apprentices' minimum wage rates, weekend penalty rates, overtime rates, public holiday pay, annual and personal leave entitlements, safety net contractual entitlements and travel entitlements.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Angus and his company also took adverse action against one of the apprentices, refusing to provide him with 38 hours of work per week after he exercised his right to take personal leave, even though his training contract stipulated a 38-hour working week.

Laws relating to frequency-of-pay, record-keeping and pay slips were allegedly also breached.

The Fair Work Ombudsman commenced an investigation into the matter after being contacted by the two apprentices.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says legal action has been commenced because of Angus's failure to rectify the alleged underpayment and because he had previously been put on notice of the need to comply with workplace laws.

"We treat underpayment of young workers particularly seriously and we are concerned about the treatment of these vulnerable young people, who were seeking to become qualified in a trade," James said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges Angus and his company committed multiple contraventions of workplace laws. G.Q. Industries Pty Ltd faces penalties of up to $51,000 per contravention, while Angus faces maximum penalties of up to $10,200 per contravention.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking Court orders requiring Angus and his company to back-pay the employees in full and for Angus to undergo workplace relations training.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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