Lauren Ahwan dis­cov­ers why work­ers should learn about their rights and en­ti­tle­ments

The Courier-Mail - Career One - - Front Page -

ALL work­ers are urged to in­crease their knowl­edge of com­pli­ance is­sues in the wake of wide­spread al­le­ga­tions of wage theft. The Fair Work Om­buds­man has found a string of or­gan­i­sa­tions has un­der­paid work­ers in re­cent times, while a Queens­land par­lia­men­tary in­quiry has heard wage theft is ram­pant, par­tic­u­larly across hos­pi­tal­ity, re­tail and ware­hous­ing in­dus­tries.

Work­force man­age­ment soft­ware provider Kronos spokesman Steve Volz says the onus is on em­ploy­ers to meet their obli­ga­tions but work­ers should heed warn­ings and en­sure they know their rights.

“Awards, reg­is­tered agree­ments and em­ploy­ment con­tracts can be pretty over­whelm­ing but … (work­ers) do need to be more aware of whether or not they’re get­ting their en­ti­tle­ments,’’ Volz says.

“It’s not just com­pli­ance is­sues around how peo­ple get paid – there are other top­ics (like) work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion or ha­rass­ment (that work­ers should be aware of).

“(Aware­ness) needs to start early. You should start to find out a lit­tle bit about (com­pli­ance is­sues) in se­condary school … so that when you are leav­ing school you know about worker rights. Then, as you move into ter- tiary ed­u­ca­tion or other fields, it should be given more fo­cus.’’

A Kronos re­port last year re­vealed one in 10 work­ers – equal to more than a mil­lion Aus­tralians – were be­ing ripped off and rarely or never re­ceived the min­i­mum wage from their em­ploy­ers.

At the very least, work­ers must check their work­place award or em­ploy­ment con­tract to en­sure they un­der­stand their en­ti­tle­ments, Volz says. But for­mal com­pli­ance train­ing is also an op­tion and can lead to im­proved job prospects.

Volz be­lieves work­ers with cre­den­tials in work­place com­pli­ance will be­come in­creas­ingly sought by em­ploy­ers look­ing to avoid breaches of em­ploy­ment laws.

Aus­tralian Coun­cil of Trade Unions pres­i­dent Michele O’Neil ad­vises all work­ers to check their pay slips care­fully to en­sure they are get­ting what they are owed.

She says if work­ers are not cov­ered by an en­ter­prise agree­ment, they should check their rel­e­vant award, which is avail­able on the Fair Work Com­mis­sion web­site or through the rel­e­vant union, for penalty rates, over­time rates and ca­sual load­ings.

Fair Work Om­buds­man San­dra Parker rec­om­mends any­one con­cerned about their wages or en­ti­tle­ments con­tact her of­fice.

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