Gold Coast workers back-paid $111,000

23 February 2015 

Dozens of workers on Queensland’s Gold Coast have shared more than $111,000 back-pay after recent inquiries by the Fair Work Ombudsman revealed they had been underpaid.

The biggest recovery was $63,200 for 54 workers at a Surfers Paradise nightclub who were underpaid their minimum hourly rates and weekend and late-night penalty rates.

The workers, including current and former employees, were underpaid over a 12-month period in 2012-2013. They received an average $1170 each.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the underpayments occurred because the employer was not fully aware of wage rates applicable to the workplace.

“It is important for Gold Coast employers to ensure they are fully aware of their obligations under workplace laws, otherwise they can end up facing unexpected bills for back-payment of wages, as occurred here,” she says.

Ms James says the nightclub avoided enforcement action by co-operating with Fair Work inspectors and promptly rectifying the underpayments.  

“When we find employers who have made inadvertent mistakes, our preference is to educate them about their obligations and work with them to resolve the issues,” she said.

“This is an example of a fair, reasonable and proportionate response to employers who admit their mistakes, fix them promptly and put systems in place to ensure the errors are not repeated in the future.”

Other recent Gold Coast recoveries include:

  • $15,700 for 31 employees at a cleaning business who were underpaid their minimum hourly rates over a 12-month period in 2012-2013,
  • $14,000 for a hairdresser underpaid the minimum hourly rate as both an apprentice, and then a qualified hairdresser, between 2009 and 2012,
  • $7300 for a young clerical worker at a training organisation underpaid the minimum hourly rate in 2011-2012,
  • $6000 for a worker at a medical clinic not paid wages in lieu of notice and redundancy pay entitlements upon termination of employment in 2012, and
  • $5200 for 10 fast food workers at a take-away business underpaid their minimum hourly rates in 2013 and 2014.

In all cases, the employees were reimbursed in full without the need for further action after Fair Work inspectors contacted the businesses and explained their obligations.

“These underpayments were genuine mistakes and it was pleasing to see all business owners accept assistance from inspectors to put processes in place to ensure ongoing compliance with workplace law," Ms James said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman's website - www.fairwork.gov.au - contains a range of tools and resources to assist employers to understand and meet their workplace obligations and operate at best practice.

Online tools include PayCheck Plus for employers and employees to determine the correct award and minimum wages for their industry, templates for pay-slips and time-and-wages records and a range of Best Practice Guides.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has expanded, and will continue to expand, its suite of free tools and resources to assist business to ensure they are getting things right.

The Agency has a dedicated webpage for small business owners at www.fairwork.gov.au/smallbusiness.

The webpage contains free template documentation for employers to use when hiring, managing and dismissing staff, including letters of engagement and probation, leave application forms and a self-audit check list.

Ms James says providing assistance to time-poor small businesses with minimal workplace relations support or expertise is a high priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“Small business is entitled to credible and reliable information about their obligations in a way that makes sense to them, and via channels that they can access quickly and easily,” she said.

Small businesses can sign up to a regular E-Newsletter from the Fair Work Ombudsman with helpful workplace tips and information.

Employers can also call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Small business employers calling the Infoline can opt to be put through to the Small Business Helpline to receive priority service.

The Fair Work Ombudsman supports compliant, productive and inclusive Australian workplaces.

It provides practical advice that is easy to access, understand and apply as part of its objective of building a culture of compliance with workplace laws.

Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO external-icon.png, the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au External link icon or find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/fairwork.gov.au External link icon.

Media inquiries:

Tom McPherson, Media Adviser
Mobile: 0439 835 855
tom.mcpherson@fwo.gov.au

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