Refuge for domestic violence victims back-pays underpaid staff

Enforceable Undertaking with Fair Work Ombudsman entails audit and training for future compliance

Refuge for domestic violence victims back-pays underpaid staff

A not-for-profit refuge for victims of domestic violence has back-paid 11 employees by more than $50,000 after inadvertently underpaying them.

The all-female staff of Tennant Creek Women’s refuge worked in crisis accommodation, counselling and outreach roles.

Inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman found that the centre paid its full-time and casual employees flat hourly rates of between $26.75 and $37.79 from July 2015 and June 2016.

One worker received a flat rate of $34 for all hours worked. Under the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Award 2010 at the time, the worker was entitled to hourly rates of up to $40.87 for day shifts, up to $45.78 for night shifts, up to $49.05 on Saturdays and up to $65.40 on Sundays.

The refuge cooperated fully with the investigation, agreeing to back pay the employees in full and enter into an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman for future compliance to employment law.

Under the EU, Tennant Creek Refuge must:

  • commission an external audit of its compliance with workplace laws across two financial years and rectify any contraventions found
  • commission training on workplace laws for managerial staff
  • display workplace and newspaper notices detailing the contraventions and apologise to the workers
  • advise all the entities which fund it that it has entered into the EU and register with the Fair Work Ombudsman’s My Account online portal.

According to Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James, the underpayments were committed because the refuge was not fully aware of its obligations.

“We are committed to helping employers rectify their non-compliance issues, but business operators need to make an effort to get the basics right in the first place,” she said.

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