Employsure’s “Fair Work” Ads Found To Be Misleading By Federal Court

Australian flag and a gavel on a sounding block

The Full Federal Court has found Employsure breached Australian Consumer Law by making misleading representations that it was a government agency.

The court case centers around Google Ads for Employsure, published between 2016 and 2018, which appeared in response to search terms such as ‘fair work ombudsman’.

The headlines in question included; ‘Fair Work Ombudsman Help – Free 24/7 Employer Advice’ and ‘Fair Work Commission Advice – Free Employer Advice’.

The ACCC, which took Employsure to court over the ads, believes the ads were misleading as they used the government agency names in the largest and most prominent typeface, and did not include any reference to Employsure.

The Court had previously found that the ads were not misleading, as a reasonable business owner would not infer an affiliation with a government agency, and dismissed the ACCC’s case.

However, the ACCC appealed the decision and the Federal Court continued with proceedings late last year.

“Employsure’s ads were displayed to small businesses who were searching for workplace relations advice from the relevant government agency, the Fair Work Ombudsman. Employsure is a private company which is not affiliated with the government, and provides workplace relations advice to businesses under long-term contracts with on-going fees,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

“We took this action after receiving over 100 complaints relating to Employsure, including from small businesses who had contacted Employsure after viewing a Google Ad and thought they were dealing with a government agency.”

Keogh said the court’s decision would serve as a deterrent for other online advertisers.

“This finding by the Full Federal Court sends a very strong message to internet advertisers that misleading consumers and small businesses by using combinations of words that are the same or similar to the names of government agencies to attract customers risks enforcement action and significant penalties,” he said.

“We will continue to take appropriate enforcement action where we consider that businesses are misleading consumers with search engine advertising.”

Employsure has previously said it “never represented itself as anything other than what it is, and that is a business that provides cost effective workplace relations advice to SMEs”.

 




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