Regulator recovers $156,000 for underpaid workers in Melbourne’s northern suburbs

21 December 2010

A number of workers in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have been back-paid $156,200 as a result of recent intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman. 

The biggest recovery was $44,300 for three tradesmen in Tullamarine.

The workers lodged complaints with the Fair Work Ombudsman after they were not paid their full redundancy entitlements.

After Fair Work inspectors contacted the company and explained its obligations, the workers were reimbursed $19,800, $17,800 and $6700 respectively.

In another case, eight Thornbury security guards have been back-paid $21,800 after they were underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates.

And in Glenroy, five apprentices have been back-paid $20,000 after they were not paid penalty rates, superannuation entitlements or wages for all hours worked.

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, penalty rates, workers not paid for all hours worked and failure to pay full entitlements to workers upon termination of their employment.

Other recent recoveries include:

  • $18,400 for a Preston receptionist not paid the minimum hourly rate, public holiday rates or annual leave entitlements,
  • $10,500 for a Thomastown technician underpaid annual leave and long service leave entitlements,
  • $9500 for a Coburg delivery driver underpaid wages in lieu of notice, accrued annual leave and long service leave,
  • $7400 for an Epping administration supervisor not paid severance pay,
  • $6500 for a Niddrie apprentice chef underpaid the minimum hourly rate and annual leave entitlements,
  • $6500 for a Tullamarine clerk underpaid the minimum hourly rate,
  • $6000 for a Mt Evelyn shop assistant underpaid the minimum hourly rate, and
  • $5300 for a Thomastown apprentice underpaid the minimum hourly rate, wages in lieu of notice and annual leave entitlements.

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

Mr Campbell says that in most cases, the Fair Work Ombudsman does not prosecute employers for inadvertent breaches of workplace laws.

“Our preference is always to work with employers to educate them and help them voluntary rectify any non-compliance issues,” he said.

"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, including PayCheck, PayrollCheck and a Pay Rate Calculator.

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.

Online resources also include payslip and record-keeping templates, a self-audit checklist and fact sheets.

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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