$276,000 recovered for underpaid workers in inner Melbourne suburbs

24 May 2010

Workers in inner Melbourne have been back-paid more than $276,000 as a result of recent investigations by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The biggest recovery was $56,000 for a South Melbourne company director who was not paid his full superannuation entitlements.

An advertising professional at Windsor has also been reimbursed $26,000 after inspectors found he was not paid his correct annual leave entitlements.

And $24,000 has been recouped for a City-based executive who was not paid accrued annual leave on termination of his employment.

The underpayments were discovered through routine audits and investigations into complaints from workers.

Significant underpayments were identified in the sales, retail, trade and professional service industries.

Common non-compliance issues encountered by inspectors include underpayment of workers' minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, sick leave and failure to pay full entitlements to workers upon termination of their employment.

Other recent recoveries include:

  • $13,000 for a casual shop assistant at Fitzroy who had been underpaid the minimum hourly rate, overtime and penalty rates plus allowances,
  • $12,600 for a St Kilda chef underpaid annual leave on termination and who had wages withheld and unauthorised deductions from pay,
  • $9800 for a Glen Waverley automotive manager underpaid sick leave,
  • $9200 for a South Melbourne security worker underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates,
  • $8800 for a Bayswater casual worker underpaid the minimum hourly rate,
  • $8600 for two workers in the Box Hill finance industry underpaid wages and annual leave entitlements,
  • $7600 for a City marketing manager underpaid accrued annual leave,
  • $7500 for a City para-legal underpaid hourly and penalty rates,
  • $7500 for a City cook underpaid her minimum hourly, penalty and weekend rates of pay,
  • $7300 for a Forest Hill chef underpaid weekend penalty rates for the past five years,
  • $6400 for a Richmond sales manager who had wages withheld and was underpaid pay in lieu of notice,
  • $6300 for a Mt Waverley product manager underpaid redundancy entitlements,
  • $6200 for a South Melbourne customer service worker not paid for all hours worked,
  • $6100 for a Malvern practice manager underpaid accrued annual leave and pro-rata long service leave,
  • $6100 for a City software engineer underpaid redundancy entitlements,
  • $6000 for a Fitzroy community service worker underpaid personal leave, annual leave entitlements and payment in lieu of notice,
  • $5400 for a Docklands social club manager underpaid severance pay,
  • $5400 for a South Yarra manager underpaid payment notice of termination,
  • $5200 for a St Kilda storeman underpaid minimum hourly rate of pay,
  • $5100 for a Hawthorn East dry cleaner underpaid annual leave entitlements, sick leave and payment in lieu of notice, and
  • $5000 for a Docklands real estate agent underpaid annual leave.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says most of the underpayments were the result of a lack of understanding by employers of their legal obligations, including rates of pay and penalty rates.

"That's why the Fair Work Ombudsman places such a strong focus on educating employers and assisting them to understand and comply with workplace laws," Mr Campbell said.

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

"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," he said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a range of user-friendly resources on its website - www.fwo.gov.au - to assist employees and employers check minimum rates of pay, including PayCheck.

Small to medium-sized businesses without human resources staff can also ensure they are following best practice 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.

Employers and employees seeking advice or assistance can also contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. Translations are available by calling 13 14 50.

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

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484

Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924

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