Business forced to back-pay workers
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.