Labour hire employer gets $22,000 penalty for underpayments

This announcement is for: 
Employee / workerEmployer

The owner of a former Perth based labour hire business has been issued a significant penalty of $22,704 for underpaying an international student more than $31,000 over a two year period.

Garth Douglas Smith, trading as Hi Ho Personnel, has been ordered to repay the employee, who worked as a casual storeperson, $31,396.94 in underpayments plus over $6,500 interest and a penalty of $22,704 plus costs.

In total, the underpayments have cost the employer more than $60,000.

The employer admitted to the 282 contraventions of the Shop and Warehouse (Wholesale and Retail Establishments) Award and in early 2021 was ordered by the Industrial Magistrates Court to repay the underpayment amount of $31,396.94 plus a penalty of $1,700.

Private Sector Labour Relations appealed the penalty decision made by the Industrial Magistrates Court, and in July 2021 the Full Bench of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission heard the appeal and ordered the payment of a higher penalty of $22,704 plus costs.

The Full Bench stated that “the contraventions cumulatively extended over a significant period of time, being two years, and at least 97 occasions of payroll processing.  Viewed cumulatively, the contraventions are egregious.”

The court proceedings followed an investigation by Private Sector Labour Relations industrial inspectors into the labour hire business. 

Private Sector Labour Relations Executive Director, Lorraine Field today reminded employers in the state industrial relations system to ensure they check all their employment obligations to avoid significant financial penalties for underpayments.

“The message to be taken from this decision is that state system employers must comply with WA award provisions and minimum conditions of employment, given the financial consequences of failing to do so,” Ms Field said. 

“Businesses in the state industrial relations system are those that operate as sole traders, unincorporated partnerships or unincorporated trusts.”

Information on employer obligations under state employment laws is available at or by calling Wageline on 1300 655 266.

The WA Government wage theft website at assists Western Australian workers with how to seek help with resolving an underpayment issue or report wage theft anonymously.

Media Contact: Caroline De Vaney, 6251 2363 or 0408 927 563 (media enquiries only).


Labour Relations
Media release
18 Aug 2021

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