Employer deducts $300 from payslip after catching worker on phone at work

University student's complaint about deduction goes viral

Employer deducts $300 from payslip after catching worker on phone at work

A worker recently garnered social media attention after “exposing” his employer for deductions from his payslip after he got caught using his mobile phone while on shift.

According to 7news.com.au, the university student complained that he had lost $298.65 in earnings from a public holiday job at Birdies Mini Golf and Sports Bar in Melbourne’s Forest Hill.

The worker went to Reddit and showed a photograph of the payslip as proof, which reported a “deduction for over five hours on cell phone during shift (unauthorised)”, and the amount was reflected as a deduction from his salary.

He acknowledged using his phone but said it was “only when there were no customers present.”

“I work in hospitality and have had five hours of salary withheld for ‘mobile phone use,’” he said. “I worked there by myself from start to finish … Is this legal?,” he asked.

The now-viral social media post has been flooded with people collectively agreeing that it was “illegal” to do so, with some going after the establishment, posting negative Google reviews, and issuing threats to the owner.

‘Aware of the business phone policy’

Speaking to 7news.com.au, the employer said that the worker had been warned for his “excessive personal mobile phone use” before action was taken.

The bar’s sole owner Stephanie Doyle said the worker was “aware of the business’s phone use policy and had agreed to it,” the report said.

“Normally, all you have to do is have a conversation about an issue with staff to move forward,” she told the media site. “He’d been warned his phone usage was excessive, he was reminded of the policy, and said he wouldn’t do it again.”

Doyle said she phoned the worker numerous times throughout his shift to ask him to turn off his phone, alleging he was already caught viewing movies and scrolling through social media after only 25 minutes on the job, according to 7news.com.au.

“I don’t have a problem with someone checking their messages as a 20-second thing and then it goes back in their pocket, but there’s a big difference between that scenario and what happened here,” she said.

“He started at 12, and by 12:25 pm, he was on his phone and wasn’t doing any of the tasks for the day.”

“If you feel I’ve done the wrong thing, then that’s your right, but go through the right channels, go through Fair Work,” she said in the report.

The business has since received abusive and “awful” calls threatening her staff, said Doyle.

Was it illegal?

The worker said he had reached out to the Fair Work Commission about recovering the deducted amount from his payslip, with unions offering insight that it can be “potentially illegal because deductions need written consent.”

The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) had recently held a company at fault for failing to provide payslips to its employees. Aside from payslip issues, falsifying records also continues to be an alarming issue.

United Workers Union’s deputy director Imogen Beynon commented that “without consent it’s unlawful” and “in fact, it’s probably wage theft,” 7news.com.au reported.

“If your boss is asking you to check your phone for their instructions on [the] one hand and on the other, they’re going to ping you for it, that’s not right,” Beynon said.

Meanwhile, JobsWatch executive director Zana Bytheway said such cases are a “conduct and performance issue” and “cannot be dealt with by deducting wages,” according to 7news.com.au.

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