Busi­ness forced to back-pay work­ers

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

A Co­bram em­ployer re­ceived an ex­pen­sive slap on the wrist af­ter the busi­ness was caught un­der­pay­ing two ap­pren­tices thou­sands of dol­lars.

The two elec­tri­cal con­trac­tor ap­pren­tices re­ceived $6725 in back-pay fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Fair Work Om­buds­man.

The un­der­pay­ments were caused by the em­ployer fail­ing to pay both the cor­rect hourly rate and the ap­pli­ca­ble in­dus­try al­lowances un­der the Elec­tri­cal, Elec­tronic and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­tract­ing Award 2010.

The ap­pren­tices were two of the 23 work­ers in the Goul­burn Val­ley re­gion who were back-paid more than $34 000 in wages and en­ti­tle­ments af­ter seek­ing as­sis­tance from the om­buds­man.

In one mat­ter, a worker at an au­to­mo­tive re­pair and main­te­nance busi­ness in Kyabram was dis­missed with­out be­ing paid his law­ful en­ti­tle­ments of no­tice of ter­mi­na­tion, an­nual leave and long ser­vice leave.

The Fair Work Om­buds­man in­ter­vened and the busi­ness agreed to pay the em­ployee an amount of $11 602.

In a sep­a­rate mat­ter, a full-time em­ployee in Kyabram who was made re­dun­dant was not given re­dun­dancy pay­ments as his em­ployer be­lieved the small busi­ness was ex­empt.

Un­der the Build­ing and Con­struc­tion On-site Award 2010, the busi­ness was re­quired to pay the em­ployee re­dun­dancy pay­ments upon the ter­mi­na­tion.

Fol­low­ing in­ter­ven­tion by the Fair Work Om­buds­man, the busi­ness co-op­er­ated and back-paid the em­ployee $8000.

In an­other mat­ter, the agency as­sisted 19 wait staff at a Shepparton res­tau­rant who had been un­der­paid a com­bined $8207.

Ten of these em­ploy­ees were aged be­tween 16 and 19.

The em­ployer had mis­clas­si­fied the work­ers as level one staff and paid them ac­cord­ingly rather than at the level two rates they were en­ti­tled to un­der the Res­tau­rant In­dus­try Award 2010.

Af­ter be­ing con­tacted by the Fair Work Om­buds­man and in­formed of the ap­pro­pri­ate clas­si­fi­ca­tion, the busi­ness fully co-op­er­ated and rec­ti­fied all un­der­pay­ments promptly.

Fair Work Om­buds­man Natalie James said each busi­ness was now on no­tice that fur­ther mis­takes could re­sult in se­ri­ous en­force­ment ac­tion, such as lit­i­ga­tion and the po­ten­tial for hefty penal­ties.

‘‘There is a wealth of free ad­vice and ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­rial on our web­site and we have a ded­i­cated small busi­ness in­fo­line so there is ab­so­lutely no ex­cuse for mak­ing these mis­takes,’’ Ms James said.

‘‘In each of these cases it was the first time the busi­ness had come to our at­ten­tion and each quickly rec­ti­fied the is­sues so we de­ter­mined that lengthy court pro­ceed­ings were not nec­es­sary in these cir­cum­stances,’’ she said.

‘‘How­ever, we re­visit busi­nesses that have been found non­com­pli­ant and these op­er­a­tors have been warned that if they con­tinue to make mis­takes, they can ex­pect to be sub­ject to court pro­ceed­ings or an en­force­able un­der­tak­ing.’’

Em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees can visit www.fair­work.gov.au or call the Fair Work In­fo­line on 131 394 for free ad­vice and as­sis­tance about their rights and obli­ga­tions in the work­place. A free in­ter­preter ser­vice is avail­able on 131 450.

The Fair Work Om­buds­man’s Pay and Con­di­tions Tool (PACT) is avail­able at www.fair­work.gov.au and pro­vides ad­vice about pay, shift, leave and re­dun­dancy en­ti­tle­ments.

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