READ UP ON YOUR RIGHTS
Lauren Ahwan discovers why workers should learn about their rights and entitlements
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.