Media company allegedly underpaid young journalists more than $300,000

A media company covering regional Queensland is facing the Federal Circuit Court after it underpaid its journalists more than $300,000.

In total, Touchpoint Media Pty Ltd allegedly underpaid 23 young journalists to the tune of $305,780 between January 2015 and June 2016.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action against Touchpoint Media, as well as company director Laurence Bernard Ward.

The journalists were all in their early 20s and were recruited straight out of university.

The largest alleged underpayment for an individual journalist was $48,217.

The websites cover the regional Queensland areas of Charters Towers, Charleville, Goondiwindi, Longreach, Maranoa, Redland and Whitsundays. Each site claims it is “an initiative of TouchPoint Media in collaboration with the Queensland State Government”, along with each area’s local council.

If the accusations can be proven, Touchpoint could be forced to pay up to $54,000 per contravention, while Ward faces penalties of up to $10,800 per breach.

According to the company’s website, Touchpoint Media began in 2012 as a “think tank” to “localise” the internet.

Ward told the Sydney Morning Herald: “An issue did emerge for us in 2015 and we have been working with the FWO since then.

“It has taken quite a long time to get to it and with their support we thought we were getting to a resolution.

“I think it is important that people know we have had a few issues, we accept that, and we have been working ever since to try and resolve it, we are close to having all the money available to pay everybody what they are due.”

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said:

“Allegations regarding inexperienced young workers who are committed to working hard to build careers is extremely disappointing and cannot be tolerated.

“Employers should be aware that we treat exploitation of young workers very seriously because they can be more vulnerable in the workplace. Young workers are often less aware of their rights or are often reluctant to complain if they think something is wrong.”

The case is due to face Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane in March next year.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story used images and logos from US-based Touch Point Media. The US-based company has nothing to do with the content of this story, or the Australian company of the same name. Mumbrella apologises for the mistake with the images and for any confusion caused. 


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