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From 31 July 2015, the maximum penalty for each breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) has increased to $54,000.

The change is a result of a recent amendment to the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) (Crimes Act), which has increased the value of a penalty unit from $170 to $180.

A further amendment to the Crimes Act also means that the value of the penalty until will be automatically adjusted in line with inflation every three years. The next amendment is due to take effect on 31 July 2018.

On the spot fines

The maximum fines payable from an infringement notice are:

  • $540 per contravention for an individual
  • $2700 per contravention for a body corporate.

Court ordered penalties

Fair Work Inspectors can also recommend taking matters to court. If this happens and litigation is successful, employers may face court orders, including:

  • penalties of up to $10,800 per contravention for an individual
  • penalties of up to $54,000 per contravention for a body corporate

Personal Fines

This increase has wide effect, particularly as there is a growing trend in adverse action claims to name all of the people “involved” in the contravention, in addition to the company. This may include the human resources manager, line manager, general counsel, or a director or officer of the company.

Read more: Fines and Penalties: Fair Work Act 2009