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Overworked and underpaid? Hopefully not!

9 November 2016

Overworked and underpaid? Hopefully not! Are you being paid or are you paying the correct wage? The Fair Work Act 2009 (“the Act”) imposes obligations on employers about the payment of minimum wages.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (“Ombudsman”) is an independent statutory office given jurisdiction under the Act. According to the Fairwork website it’s role is to: “promote harmonious, productive and co-operative workplace relations and to monitor, inquire into, investigate and enforce compliance with relevant Commonwealth laws”.

A look at the media release page on the Fairwork website illustrates how active the Ombudsman has been in the area of underpayment of wages recently and includes:

1. 1500 cleaners at a major hotel chain being back paid $1.9 million as a result of misclassification of their roles;

2. A restaurant worker in Tasmania being back paid $15,000 not paid to them during a business downturn;

3. Chinese workers being back paid $46,000 in Hobart where the Ombudsman found that they were being paid as low as $11 an hour;

4. Court penalties of $146,000 imposed on a Sydney frozen yogurt chain after it found that the chain had exploited four Korean workers.

The takeaway point from these examples is that the Ombudsman is sending a clear warning that employers who fail to meet their legal obligations do so at their peril.

In particular many of the examples deal with the exploitation of vulnerable workers and the Ombudsman has stated that employers doing this will face harsh scrutiny.

Another Fairwork website contains the Pay and Conditions Tool (P.A.C.T) which is designed to calculate the correct pay and leave entitlements for workers. This can be accessed by both employers and employees.

Author: John English

This article is general information only and should not be relied on without obtaining further specific information.

John English Business Lawyer / Director

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