Coffs Harbour apprentices underpaid $22,000

8 February 2016 

Three apprentice chefs at Coffs Harbour have been underpaid more than $22,000, investigations by the Fair Work Ombudsman have revealed.

An adult apprentice in his mid-20s working at a local café was short-changed $9500 over seven months.

He was paid junior rates of $11 for normal hours and $16.50 on Sundays, but under the Restaurant Industry Award was entitled to a normal rate of $15.71 and up to $23.57 on Sundays.

The Fair Work Ombudsman also discovered that he was not paid any overtime, despite working up to 54 hours a week, and was not receiving paid meal breaks, annual leave or minimum engagement entitlements.

In addition, inquiries by Fair Work inspectors have revealed that two other apprentice chefs at a local restaurant were short-changed almost $13,000.

They were inadvertently underpaid weekend, public holiday and overtime rates over six months.

And in a separate matter, the Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $5400 for 13 employees at a local cleaning company who were underpaid early morning shift rates.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says Coffs Harbour businesses need to ensure they understand the wage rates applicable to their business, including penalty rates for overtime, weekend and evening shifts.

She says minimum pay rates apply to all workers, are not optional and employers must know what they are.

Anyone with uncertainty about workplace practices can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

Small businesses calling the Infoline can opt to receive priority service to assist their inquiries.

Tools and resources available on the website include templates for time-and-wages records, an online learning centre and a Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) that provides advice about pay, shift, leave and redundancy entitlements.

Ms James says the Agency is working hard to provide practical advice that is easy to access, understand and apply to support compliant, productive and inclusive workplaces and build a culture of compliance with Commonwealth 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 External link icon.

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Media inquiries:

Lara O'Toole, Media Adviser
Mobile: 0439 835 855

Annie Lawson, Media Adviser
Mobile: 0466 522 004

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