Fair Work Ombudsman visits Sunshine Coast

22 February 2013

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson will highlight some common excuses employers use for underpaying staff during a visit to the Sunshine Coast on Friday February 22.

Mr Wilson will deliver a speech titled ‘Common excuses given by businesses - getting it right before a complaint’, at the Aitken Legal Workplace Forum.

Mr Wilson says common excuses Fair Work inspectors hear from employers on the Sunshine Coast and around Australia include: ‘I can’t afford to pay every entitlement’, ‘that’s all they’re worth’ and ‘that’s what everyone else in the industry pays’.

“Of course, none of these excuses absolve employers from their obligation to pay staff their full lawful entitlements,” Mr Wilson said.

“The best way for employers to avoid problems is to make sure they know what minimum wage rates, penalty rates and other entitlements apply to their staff and to pay them accordingly.”

When Fair Work inspectors identify non-compliance issues, their preference is to assist the employer to voluntarily rectify the issue and put processes in place to ensure ongoing compliance.

Mr Wilson says Fair Work inspectors have been very active on the Sunshine Coast over the past 18 months, investigating more than 650 complaints, proactively auditing almost 200 businesses and recovering approximately $600,000 for underpaid workers.

Industries generating the most underpayment complaints from Sunshine Coast workers include accommodation and food services, construction and retail.

Recent recoveries by Fair Work inspectors in the Sunshine Coast region include:

  • $7300 for an apprentice at Caloundra underpaid wages and penalty rates after being classified incorrectly,
  • $5900 for a Warana professional underpaid wages in 2012, and
  • $5400 for a Peregian Beach apprentice underpaid annual leave entitlements and wages in lieu of notice upon termination of employment.

Employers and employees seeking free advice or assistance should visit www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Mr Wilson will deliver his speech at the Sunshine Coast Function Centre at 2.30pm and will then be available for media interviews.

Media inquiries:

Kevin Donnellan, Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations
0408 491 956

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