$160,000 back-pay for Top End employees

14 October 2010

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recouped more than $160,000 for dozens of Northern Territory employees who have been underpaid at work.

Cases recently finalised include the recovery of $46,400 for a Darwin hospitality worker who was underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates.

In a separate case, 58 Darwin security workers have shared a total of $46,900 back-pay after a targeted investigation.

And at Katherine, a retail worker has been reimbursed $14,000 after he was not paid sick leave or accrued annual leave entitlements. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman has also recently recovered:

  • $7800 for an automotive worker at Winnellie underpaid termination entitlements
  • $7300 for a Darwin education worker underpaid wages in lieu of notice on termination
  • $7300 for a Darwin crane driver underpaid entitlements on redundancy
  • $6900 for a Darwin executive underpaid annual leave entitlements on termination
  • $6100 for a Winnellie receptionist underpaid penalty rates for weekends and after hours work
  • $5100 for a Darwin hospitality worker underpaid overtime rates
  • $5100 for a Casuarina customer service worker underpaid annual leave entitlements and wages in lieu of notice, and
  • $5000 for an Alice Springs resort assistant manager underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates.

The underpayment of the 58 security staff occurred when their pay packets were short on weekend, public holiday and overtime penalty rates and allowances.

The underpayments were discovered as part of a national campaign which recovered more than $677,000 for 800 security staff Australia-wide.

After Fair Work inspectors contacted the employer and explained its obligations, the business promptly reimbursed the workers all money owed.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says that because all employers involved in the underpayments co-operated and voluntarily back-paid their workers, there will be no further action against them.

Visiting Darwin for the NT Industrial Relations Society conference tomorrow, Mr Wilson says the underpayments were the result of a lack of understanding by the employers of their legal obligations.

“That’s why the Fair Work Ombudsman places such a strong emphasis on educating employers to understand and comply with workplace laws,” he said.

“We acknowledge that inadvertent and accidental breaches of workplace laws do and will occur and we want to help employers to ‘get it right’ so we can avoid going to court.

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

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

“We are serious about our job of ensuring regional communities understand their rights and obligations in the workplace.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered more than $111 million over the past three years for Australian employees who were underpaid at work.

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 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 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. 

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484
craig.bildstien@fwo.gov.au 

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