$116,000 back-paid to building apprentices in Tasmania
28 August 2013
The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered more than $116,000 for underpaid
apprentices in Tasmania as part of a campaign focussing on the
state's residential building industry.
Fair Work Inspectors audited 150 randomly selected businesses across
Tasmania, who employ first year apprentices, and found that 60 businesses (40
per cent) were meeting their obligations under workplace laws, while 90 (60 per
cent) were in breach.
The campaign targeted employers who employ apprentices in trades such as
carpentry, bricklaying, painting, plastering and roof tiling. While only
employers with first year apprentices were selected for an audit, the campaign
included all apprentices at those businesses.
Of the businesses in breach, 46 employers were found to have underpaid 86
apprentices a total of $116,412, while many others had only record-keeping and
technical contraventions. One audit is still underway as a more detailed
investigation is required.
Businesses found to have underpaid apprentices were at locations including
Burnie, Devonport, Hobart, Kingston, Lauderdale, Launceston, Legana, New
Norfolk, Port Sorell, Ulverstone and Wynyard.
Underpayments at individual businesses ranged from less than $100 to more
$22,000 for an adult apprentice at a Hobart business who was
inadvertently paid junior apprentice rates.
St Helens and surrounding towns had the highest compliance
rate of 75 per cent, followed by Hobart and surrounding areas
(46 per cent), Devonport and surrounding towns (35 per cent),
Launceston and surrounding towns (32.5 per cent) and
New Norfolk, where the two businesses audited were both in
Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, said the audits showed many employers had
increased the wages of apprentices as they advanced through their apprenticeship
but had not passed on annual July 1 wage increases which apply to most staff in
"While the overall contravention rate was disappointing, it is pleasing that
all employers were willing to voluntarily back-pay their staff without the need
for further action," Ms James said.
Fair Work Inspectors assisted all employers to rectify non-compliance issues
and helped them to put processes in place to ensure the problems were not
Ms James said Tasmania's residential building industry was targeted because
it employs many young apprentices and is a persistent source of complaints to
the Fair Work Ombudsman.
"Young workers can be vulnerable, as they're often not fully aware of their
workplace rights and can be reluctant to complain, so we place a high priority
on taking action to protect them," she said.
"We focused on businesses employing first year apprentices so that we could
help employers to get things right from the start of their employees’
Employers and employees seeking information should
use the free tools and resources available at www.fairwork.gov.au, which includes an 'Industries' section with information specific to the building and construction
industry, or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An
interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.
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