Fair Work Ombudsman cracks down on under-payment

by Janie Smith23 Jun 2014
Employers who inadvertently underpaid their workers have had to make amends after investigations by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

According to the Ombudsman’s website, a number of Tasmanian workers were back-paid almost $50,000 collectively, including one motel manager who received $15,000 after being underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates for weekend, night and public holiday work between 2007 and 2010.

A chef was paid $10,000 after being underpaid in late night penalty rates, while an electrician received $9,300 after not being paid his redundancy entitlements and wages in lieu of notice.

In Melbourne, 16 cleaners were reimbursed more than $50,000 in underpaid wages.

The individual amounts ranged from $135 to $8668.

The Ombudsman has handing out some hefty fines to employers in the past year who were found to be breaching workplace laws.

Here are the top three fines, which relate to pay-based disputes and do not include the back-pay awarded.

7 September, 2013: $343,860
A cleaning company and its manager were fined for deliberately underpaying six cleaners, including five foreign workers. The underpaid cleaners were aged 20s and 30s, with the foreign nationals originating from Taiwan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Ireland; three of them spoke little English.
The company - Housekeeping - was fined $286,550 while business manager Catherine Paino-Povey was fined an additional $57,310.

29 July, 2013: $286,704
Private transport company Happy Cabby displayed “wilful blindness” of workplace laws, engaging in sham contracting that resulted in seven employees being underpaid.
Graeme Thomas Paff, sole company director, admitted to misclassifying seven shuttle bus drivers as independent contractors as opposed to employees.
Paff himself was charged $47,784, while Happy Cabby was fined an additional $238,920.

2 August, 2013: $180,000
Kzuhiro Kojima and Zhicheng Zhang, operators of four Japanese restaurants in Launceston were fined for underpaying 50 of their workers, many of whom were young foreign workers.
Some of the workers spoke little English, with a number being international students. They were paid flat rates between $5 and $10 an hour - resulting in significant underpayments to base rates as well as penalty rates for weekend, evening and public holiday work. Further pay slip and record-keeping laws were also breached.
Kojima and Zhang were fined $27,984 each, while their company — Bento Kings Meadows — was fined $122,960.


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