MAXIMUM PENALTY: Lismore?s Centrepoint motel in Molesworth Street.
MAXIMUM PENALTY: Lismore?s Centrepoint motel in Molesworth Street.

Motel owner fined for ?hiding? wages records

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

PROMINENT Lismore businessman Bob McKenzie has been fined the maximum penalty for failing to provide government inspectors with employee time and wages records.

Lismore Centrepoint Motel owner Nampula Holdings and director Mr McKenzie have been fined $3000 each by the Chief Industrial Magistrate's Court in Newcastle.

The company and Mr McKenzie were also fined $750 each in 2003 for the same offence.

NSW Department of Employment and Workplace Relations deputy State manager Ross Drysdale said the prosecutions were launched after two former motel employees complained about being underpaid.

"The motel and Mr McKenzie had failed to provide time and wages records to departmental inspectors so that they could investigate the alleged underpayments," he said.

"The prosecutions demonstrate this Government's commitment to ensuring employers abide by the law and pay their employees their legal entitlements."

Mr McKenzie, who also owns Lismore's Civic Hotel, yesterday declined to comment on the fines or allegations.

Department of Employment and Workplace Relations Northern Area manager Peter Schmarr said if Mr McKenzie continued to hide his business's records, he could be fined again or face further action for hindering and obstructing an inspector.

He said if it was proven Mr McKenzie had underpaid his employees, he could be fined up to $33,000 per offence.

"The problem is we couldn't determine the full amount of underpayment because he wouldn't give us his records," Mr Schmarr said. "We've been there a number of times and he has refused to give us the records."

Mr Drysdale warned employers it was an obligation under law to maintain accurate business records.

"Those employers who choose to ignore requirements, especially time and wage record-keeping provisions, can be prosecuted and face court-imposed penalties up to a maximum of $1000 for each offence," he said.

"Most employers do the right thing when made aware of these obligations."

Employees concerned about their wages can call 1300 363 264 or visit www.wagenet.gov.au



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