Fair Work claims estate agency paid Queensland salesman $100 for five months’ work

The directors and part-owners of Burpengary-based real estate agency Lovers of Property are to face court after allegedly paying a salesman just $100 for five months’ work.

It is alleged the salesman was entitled to have been paid wages and annual entitlements of $12,440 for the five months of work he performed. The alleged underpayment has not been rectified.

Company directors and part-owners William Nicholas Fraser and Diana Sylvia Cartwright (pictured at left), both of Morayfield, will face court for alleged sham contracting in a matter being prosecuted by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

A directions hearing is scheduled for Thursday, February 23.

Also facing court will be ICS Real Estate Pty Ltd, a national company involved in contracting sales and marketing workers on behalf of real estate agencies. Lovers of Property allegedly used the services of ICS Real Estate in 2010 to engage a salesman who was in his late 50s and who had no prior experience in the real estate industry.

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The Fair Work Ombudsman alleges ICS Real Estate, Fraser and Cartwright were involved in three breaches of workplace laws committed by Lovers of Property, which trades as the Burpengary-based agency Property Lovers.

The maximum potential penalty per breach is $33,000 each for the companies and $6600 each for Fraser and Cartwright.

Lovers of Property allegedly classified the salesman as an independent contractor and paid him on a commission-only basis.

The salesman allegedly performed five months work for just $100, which he received in recognition of his assistance in concluding a sale.

However the Fair Work Ombudsman will allege the salesman’s correct classification was as an employee.

“It is alleged the salesman’s assigned tasks included letterbox drops, door knocking, answering phone calls and offering free property appraisals and that his usual rostered hours were  8.30 am to 5 pm, Monday to Saturday,” says the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“It is alleged the salesman was not required to obtain an Australian Business Number or register his own business and that he believed he was an employee.

“The salesman was allegedly also told he could not work for any other company.

“The salesman was allegedly required to provide his own work laptop, mobile phone and a car of a make and model approved by Lovers of Property as projecting an acceptable image and standard of professionalism.

“It is alleged that after the salesman left work early one day to attend a job interview with another agency and then resigned after securing the job, Fraser told him: ‘That’s fine, I was going to fire you anyway for leaving work without approval’.”

Fair Work inspectors discovered the alleged breaches when they investigated a complaint the salesman lodged after he resigned.

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Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says a decision to prosecute was made because of the significant amount involved and the seriousness of the alleged breaches.

“Where we suspect sham contracting is occurring, we look behind the often carefully drafted legal documents to determine what the correct classification for workers is under workplace laws,” Wilson says.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a court order for Lovers of Property to rectify the alleged underpayment of the salesman.

Among the material posted on the Lovers of Property website includes the offer that “the total cost to sell any home anywhere in QLD from $3,999.00 inc GST”.

It also promises: “We don't just provide cheap commissions we will give you a real estate experience you will remember for the rest of your life.”

 

 

 


Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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