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A businessman with a history of misconduct and his former human resources manager have been penalised for what a Judge has labelled “appalling” and “objectionable” conduct affecting vulnerable workers.

Travice Blom – who formerly operated recruitment and labour-hire company Oz Staff Career Services Pty Ltd – has been penalised $14,960 for unlawfully deducting $130,000 from the wages of 102 Melbourne cleaners and falsifying pay records to hide the practice.

In addition, former Oz Staff Career Services human resources manager Alex Linossi, has been penalised $9920 for his part in facilitating some of the unlawful deductions and the false records.

The penalties, imposed in the Federal Circuit Court, are the result of legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Penalties could not be obtained against Oz Staff Career Services because the company was placed into liquidation last year.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) says the penalties send a message that anyone involved in deliberately operating a business model that involves the exploitation of workers can face serious repercussions.

“We are prepared to use the accessorial liability provisions of the Fair Work Act, where it is in the public interest, to hold anyone to account for their involvement in exploiting workers,”

“This can include human resources and payroll officers, line managers, accountants and advisors and this means that even if a company is liquidated, it’s no guarantee of avoiding the consequences of non-compliance with the Fair Work Act.”

The FWO says business operators also need to be aware that deliberate contraventions of record-keeping laws are being treated particularly seriously.

In the 2015-16 financial year, 16 of the 50 legal actions (32 per cent) commenced by the Fair Work Ombudsman involved allegations of knowingly false or misleading records.

Source: FWO Media Release 24 October 2016