More than $180,000 recovered for underpaid workers in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs

1 December 2010

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently recovered $183,000 in back-pay for a number of workers in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

The biggest recovery was $28,900 for a car park attendant in South Yarra who was underpaid penalty rates and allowances.

After Fair Work inspectors contacted the company and explained its obligations, the worker was back-paid in full.

In a separate case, a Nunawading manufacturing worker has been reimbursed $26,600 after it was found the employee was underpaid wages in lieu of notice, annual leave, personal leave and severance pay.

And in Scoresby a sales manager has been back-paid $24,600 after he did not receive severance pay on termination.

Fair Work inspectors discovered the underpayments through a combination of routine audits and investigations into complaints from workers.

Common non-compliance issues encountered by inspectors include underpayment of workers’ minimum hourly rates and penalty rates, failure to pay workers for all hours worked and failure to pay full entitlements on termination.

Other recoveries include:

  • $20,000 for a Prahran administration assistant underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates,
  • $16,200 for a Camberwell surveyor underpaid sick leave entitlements,
  • $14,500 for a Bayswater North truck driver who was not paid overtime or wages in lieu of notice,
  • $10,100 for a Port Melbourne director underpaid annual leave entitlements,
  • $8500 for a Healesville worker in the service industry underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates,
  • $6600 for a Prahran administration worker underpaid the minimum hourly rate,
  • $6100 for a Waverly administration assistant underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates,
  • $5600 for a Rowville gardener who was underpaid the minimum hourly rate and not paid for all hours worked,
  • $5300 for a Carrum Downs supervisor in the hospitality industry who was not paid accrued annual leave,
  • $5000 for a Prahran architect underpaid annual leave entitlements, and
  • $5000 for a Notting Hill IT worker underpaid annual leave and wages in lieu of notice on termination.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says that given the employers co-operated and voluntarily rectified their respective contraventions, there will be no further action against the companies.

“In most cases, the Fair Work Ombudsman does not prosecute employers for inadvertent breaches of workplace laws,” he said.

“We have a flexible, fair approach and our preference is always to work with employers to educate them and help them voluntarily rectify any non-compliance issues we identify.

“We are very serious about our job of building knowledge and creating fairer workplaces and we are strongly focused on ensuring the community understands its workplace rights and obligations.

“The best advice I can give to business operators is to get the basics right and everything else should start to fall into place.

“By the basics, I mean knowing what Award applies to your employees, the correct classifications and pay rates.”

Mr Campbell says employers need to regularly review their Award or agreement to ensure they are fully aware of their obligations to their workers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a number of tools on its website - www.fairwork.gov.au - to assist employees and employers to check minimum rates of pay.

Small to medium-sized businesses without human resources staff can also ensure they are better equipped when hiring, managing and dismissing employees by using free template employment documentation with step-by-step instructions or accessing a series of Best Practice Guides.

The ‘Industries’ section on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website provides information specifically tailored for employers and workers in the retail, cleaning, clerical, hair and beauty, security and horticulture industries.

Employers or employees seeking assistance or further information can also contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 from 8am-6pm weekdays. For translations, call 13 14 50.

Note - we are unable to provide additional information on the cases listed above.

Media inquiries:

Richard Honey, Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations,
(03) 9954 2716, 0457 924 146
richard.honey@fwo.gov.au

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