Media release

24 October  2011

Retirement villages cautioned over $215k staff underpayments

Two retirement villages in regional Queensland have been formally cautioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman after it was discovered they were underpaying their night carers.

The two Wide Bay/Burnett businesses have reimbursed 34 of their staff a total of $215,000 in back wages.

The carers, mostly older women with no formal qualifications returning to the workforce, were being paid a flat $70 for a 15-hour sleep-over shift from 5pm to 8am.

They were being underpaid as much as $145 for some shifts, depending on applicable penalty rates.

Fair Work inspectors identified the underpayment contraventions when they investigated complaints lodged by carers at both villages.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says it is the first time the businesses have come to his Agency’s attention.

“They have fully co-operated to rectify all outstanding entitlements and ensure their future compliance with workplace laws,” he said.

However, both retirement villages have received formal letters of caution highlighting the seriousness of their breaches and reminding them of their obligations under workplace laws.

In South Australia, the Fair Work Ombudsman is currently visiting aged care centres to assist employers to understand and comply with National Employment Standards and Modern Awards.

In NSW in May, the Fair Work Ombudsman initiated legal action against a retirement village for allegedly underpaying a caretaker more than $28,000 over a three-month period.

And in Victoria this month, the Fair Work Ombudsman launched a prosecution against the operator of a residential care service in suburban Melbourne for allegedly underpaying a personal care worker more than $50,000 over a four-year period.

Workers or employers seeking support can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman via the website - www.fairwork.gov.au - or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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Page last updated: 24 Oct 2011