Gold Coast workers paid as little as $10 an hour

5 February 2016

A Gold Coast restaurant and a take-away food outlet have had to back-pay a dozen employees a total of more than $23,000 after the Fair Work Ombudsman found the workers were being short-changed.

In both cases, the migrant employers - from non-English speaking backgrounds - said they were unaware of their obligations under federal workplace laws and were paying flat hourly rates for all hours worked.

A take-away food outlet at Carrara was paying its staff as little as $10 an hour and not paying penalty rates for weekend, public holiday or shift work.

Four casual female employees have been reimbursed a total of almost $10,000.

The business has now been advised it must pay its staff as per the terms and conditions of the Fast Food Industry Award – and that minimum wage rates are non-negotiable.

Two teenage workers at the outlet were also underpaid their minimum wages and penalty rates.

At Robina, nine workers, including some international students, have shared $13,700 after being underpaid by a local restaurant over 12 months.

The employees were also paid flat hourly rates, instead of wage rates applicable under the Restaurant Industry Award.

One worker was short-changed more than $5100.

The underpayments were discovered as a result of pro-active auditing of both venues.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says all employers must realise that there are minimum pay rates, they apply to all workers, they are not optional and they should know what they are.

While she was encouraged that both Gold Coast employers co-operated with inspectors and promptly reimbursed employees all money owed, she says they are now “on notice” to comply.

Ms James encouraged employers who had any uncertainty about whether their workplace practices were appropriate to visit or call the Small Business Helpline on 13 13 94 for advice.

The Small Business Helpline has assisted more than 290,000 callers since it was established.

An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50 and information on the website is translated into 27 languages.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has also produced videos in 14 different languages, which are available on YouTube, to assist people from non-English speaking backgrounds to understand Australia’s workplace relations laws.

Ms James says the Agency is committed to providing practical advice that is easy to access, understand and apply as part of its commitment to support compliant, productive and inclusive Australian workplaces.   

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