Employsure taken to court over ‘misleading’ Google Ads campaigns

The consumer and competition watchdog is taking employment relations saleshouse Employsure to court over allegations the company ran misleading Google Ads campaigns between January 2016 and November 2018.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, injunctions, consumer redress orders for four small businesses, corrective publication and compliance orders, and costs from Employsure for ads which appeared when people searched for terms such as ‘fair work ombudsman’ and ‘fair work australia helpline’. 

According to the ACCC, the ads misled small business consumers into believing Employsure was itself, or was affiliated with, a government agency, which is not the case.

Employsure also allegedly represented to consumers that it provided a free helpline for workplace relations advice, when the primary function of the service was to secure marketing leads to sell its own services.

The ads on Google featured headlines such as ‘Fair Work Ombudsman Help – Free 24/7 Employer Advice’ and ‘Fair Work Commission Advice – Free Employer Advice’.

Employsure’s websites also prominently advertised call centre phone numbers for a ‘Helpline’ that purported to provide free advice, the ACCC said.

ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said the advice sought by some businesses from Employsure was actually freely available from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“The ACCC alleges that Employsure targeted small businesses who were seeking the free workplace relations helpline operated by the government. Its primary objective was to sign these businesses up to long-term contracts with ongoing fees,” she said.

“Businesses must not claim they provide free, government-affiliated services in order to lure customers into buying their services,” she added.

The ACCC further alleges Employsure engaged in unconscionable conduct between August 2015 and June 2018 by meeting with four small businesses, representatives for which believed they were speaking with someone from, or associated with, a government agency. These businesses found Employsure after Google searches for the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The ACCC alleges that during these meetings, the small businesses were pressured into signing long-term contracts with Employsure.

Bohemia won Employsure’s performance media and digital channels account in June of this year, however Mumbrella understands the media agency has no involvement with Employsure’s Google Ads campaigns. Instead, the company has an internal team to handle this aspect of its planning and buying.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.