Flight Centre in court over worker underpayment claims
TRAVEL giant Flight Centre has been hit with a Federal Court claim today accusing the company of underpaying workers and failing to pay penalties.
The claim is on behalf of five current and former Flight Centre employees who are alleging widespread breaches of the Fair Work Act by the company.
The applicants are seeking compensation for breaches including; failure to pay minimum wages for ordinary hours, failure to pay penalty and overtime rates and failure to provide the correct rest and meal breaks.
Maurice Blackburn Employment Law Principal Giri Sivaraman, who is acting on behalf of the five applicants, said Flight Centre systematically underpaid workers for a significant amount of time as a part of its commission structure.
Flight Centre operated a system where a commission was paid on top of a base salary as an incentive to drive sales however, given the hours actually worked by these employees, they needed to earn enough commission for their pay to rise above the statutory minimum wage.
"As this systemic underpayment of employees was part of the structure of Flight Centre's business we believe that potentially thousands of current and former workers could have been impacted."
A Flight Centre spokesperson has rejected the allegations in a statement, and said the company will fight the claims.
"The company has categorically denied that some of its people were paid below the minimum award under the previous wage structure," the spokesperson said.
"Like most sales companies, Flight Centre has an incentivised workforce and pays its people a base wage or retainer plus commissions.
"If the combination of retainer and commission fell below the minimum applicable award, the
company paid its people an additional top-up to ensure earnings reached the appropriate level."
The action will also request Flight Centre do an audit of its compliance with the Fair Work Act to include all current and former employees during the relevant period.