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The Commonwealth Agency responsible for investigating and fining businesses, the ‘Fair Work Ombudsman’ (FWO) has succeeded in its efforts to prosecute Newcastle-based business, Happy Cabby Pty Ltd.

The penalty announced by the court is the largest ever imposed in NSW against an employer as a result of prosecution initiated by the FWO.

Better HR Managing Director, David Bates, said: “The court’s decision should serve as a timely reminder to even the smallest business that Australia’s workplace laws must be taken very seriously. In this case, the business was fined more than $280,000 and the company’s sole director received an additional, personal fine of almost $50,000.

Too many employers mistakenly believe that prosecution ‘will never happen to them’. Ignoring the laws – no matter how much we may disagree with them – is simply not a viable option”.

Better HR has assisted countless employers correctly determine whether their staff are ‘contractors’ or ’employees’, but the rules are complex and frequently inconsistent.

Says Bates: “Few employers – particularly those running small businesses – understand that the criteria applied by the FWO (for employment purposes) and by the ATO (for PAYG and related purposes) can be quite different. Employers simply can’t keep up with these complexities and, as the Happy Cabby decision shows, getting it wrong can be very costly.”