Accounting firm to front court over underpayment claims

Accounting firm to front court over underpayment claims

A Victorian accounting firm will face court over its alleged involvement in the underpayment of two Taiwanese backpackers working for one of its clients.

The Fair Work ombudsman has commenced legal action against Box Hill-based EZY Accounting 123 Pty Ltd in the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne; the first time that the agency has initiated proceedings against an accountant for allegedly knowingly being involved in contraventions of workplace law.

EZY Accounting 123 provided payroll services for Blue Impression Pty Ltd, operator of the Hanaichi QV fast-food outlet in Melbourne QV in the CBD. Blue Impression and its operations manager Sze Teng Wong are also facing court. 

Two Taiwanese employees in Australia on 417 working holiday visas were allegedly underpaid a total of $9,549 between September 2014 and April 2015. EZY Accounting 123 allegedly processed wage payments for the two workers, knowing the rates they were being paid were well below the lawful minimum.

Blue Impression was previously audited in 2014 as part of the Fair Work ombudsman’s proactive National Hospitality Campaign. It has previously been put on notice of its workplace obligations after it was found to have underpaid 12 employees a total of $8,800.

EZY Accounting 123 was also apprised of minimum award rates at the time of the audit, as it assisted the company to calculate and rectify the wage underpayments.

“We have been concerned about the role of key advisers, such as accountants and HR professionals, in some serious and deliberate contraventions,” says Natalie James, Fair Work ombudsman. 

“Small business relies heavily on trusted advisers, and if they give incorrect or bad advice, or deliberately assist with the contravention, should they not be held accountable? In situations where we believe accountants or other professionals knowingly facilitate contraventions of workplace laws, we are prepared to hold them to account.”  

Blue Impression and EZY Accounting 123 each face court penalties of up to $51,000 per contravention and Ms Wong faces penalties of up to $10,200 per breach.

Accounting firm to front court over underpayment claims
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