Workers in Melbourne’s west back-paid $145,000 after regulator intervenes

22 December 2010

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently recovered more than $145,000 for a number of workers in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

The biggest recovery was $43,800 for 10 Altona process workers who were underpaid penalty rates for shift work.

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

In a separate case, a Point Cook sales assistant has been reimbursed $13,700 after she was underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates.

And in West Melbourne a salesman has also been back-paid $12,100 after he was underpaid annual leave and personal leave.

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

Common 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.

Significant amounts of back-pay were recovered in the retail, sales, manufacturing professional service, trade and hospitality sectors.

Other recent recoveries include:

  • $10,300 for a Hoppers Crossing technician not paid for all hours worked, 
  • $9200 for an Altona truck driver underpaid allowances,
  • $8200 for an Altona payroll officer not paid wages or accrued annual leave,
  • $7800 for a Tarneit hospitality worker underpaid the minimum hourly rate, penalty rates and overtime,
  • $6700 for a Brooklyn sales manager underpaid the minimum hourly rate, overtime, annual leave and who had unauthorised deductions from wages,
  • $6100 for an Airport West hairdresser not paid penalty rates,
  • $5700 for  a Laverton food and beverage attendant underpaid the minimum hourly rate, accrued annual leave, public holiday entitlements and sick leave,
  • $5700 for a Tottenham West storeman not paid penalty rates,
  • $5500 for a Sunbury personal attendant not paid annual leave entitlements and penalty rates,
  • $5300 for a Brooklyn automotive industry worker underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates, and
  • $5200 for a Werribee apprentice not paid wages.

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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