Media release

6 July 2009

Restaurant worker’s query triggers back-payments to 129 co-workers

A young Hobart restaurant worker who believed she was being underpaid has triggered a review of the entitlements of more than 220 of her co-workers.

While the 22-year-old will be reimbursed almost $70, another 129 staffers will also be back-paid a total of more than $22,000.

The underpayments came to light after the restaurant agreed to do an internal audit following the young woman’s initial complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the woman came forward concerned that she was not receiving penalty rates for shift work.

Inspectors discovered the woman, a casual employee, was receiving $15.60 an hour, when she should have been getting $17.17 (the adult minimum wage of $14.31 plus a 20 per cent loading).

She was owed $68.59 for the short period she had been employed.

Mr Campbell says the restaurant owner was upset to learn he had been underpaying the worker, as he had engaged an industrial relations consultant to frame his staff collective agreement.

The employer was asked to review the employment records of all staff or face a formal investigation and potential legal action.

“The employer has co-operated and those calculations are now complete, revealing that 129 other staff at the restaurant have been inadvertently short-changed a total of $22,228.09,” Mr Campbell said.

These payments are now being made voluntarily by the employer.

Mr Campbell says the case highlights the importance of young workers who are concerned about their entitlements to come forward to seek information and assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“We take all complaints very seriously and will investigate every matter thoroughly to ensure the workplace rights of employees are upheld,” he said.

Workers and employers alike can contact the FWO Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fwo.gov.au for assistance.

The Fair Work Ombudsman aims to promote harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces. It also monitors compliance and investigates breaches of national workplace laws.

A new specialist education team has been charged with assisting small to medium sized businesses understand the changes to national workplace relations laws.

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations.
0419 818 484
craig.bildstien@fwo.gov.au

 

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser Media and Stakeholder Relations.
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au 

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Page last updated: 06 Jul 2009