National campaign likely after Adelaide car wash crews underpaid

18 November 2010

The Fair Work Ombudsman is considering launching a nation-wide investigation of manual car wash outlets after an audit of a small number of Adelaide businesses found young crews were being underpaid.

Adelaide-based Fair Work inspectors recently scrutinised the employment records of eight car wash outlets in the City, Woodville, Glenelg, Unley and West Lakes.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says inspectors found four of the eight were underpaying employees.  

Inspectors have so far recovered more than $8100 for 18 staff at three premises.

However, Mr Campbell says the fourth remains under investigation.

He says the underpaid car washers were mostly young workers from a non-English speaking background.

"They were underpaid their minimum hourly rate and had unauthorised deductions made from their pay," he said.

Mr Campbell says the Adelaide audits found evidence of cash-in-hand payments and poor record-keeping and payslip practices.

"Given these concerning findings, we will now strongly consider conducting a national campaign to raise awareness among employers in this industry about their legal obligations to their staff," he said.

"It is important that we ensure the many young and vulnerable workers employed to manually wash vehicles are receiving their full and proper entitlements."

In Victoria last year, Reiquin Pty Ltd and its director Richard Timothy Reid were fined a Victorian record $207,900 for underpaying five casual car washing staff at the Royal Melbourne Car Wash in Camberwell.

Mr Campbell says the Fair Work Ombudsman has a range of user-friendly resources on its website at to help employers understand national workplace laws, including Modern Awards and minimum National Employment Standards.

Resources for small business include a number of industry-specific web pages, payslip and record-keeping templates, a self-audit checklist, template letters and fact sheets on dozens of topics including leave, industrial action, public holidays, enterprise bargaining, gender pay equality and family-friendly workplaces.

As well as Online resources, the Fair Work Ombudsman has advisers available to speak with employers and workers with questions on its Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 from 8am-6pm weekdays.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902

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