Underpaid workers win massive back pay

These employers were ordered to fork out huge sums, and could face further penalties

Underpaid workers win massive back pay

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently helped 23 workers in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region get back pays of more than $34,000 representing wages and other entitlements.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the former employers of these workers are now on notice that further mistakes could result in serious enforcement action, such as litigation and the potential for hefty penalties.

There is no excuse for companies to make mistakes, she said. “There is a wealth of free advice and educational material on our website and we have a dedicated small business infoline.”

  • An automotive repair and maintenance business in Kyabram dismissed a worker without giving him notice of termination and payments for annual leave and long-service leave. After intervention, the company agreed to pay $11,602.  
  • Another business in Kyabram made a worker redundant and did not give redundancy payments. The employer believed small businesses were exempt from this. But such payments were required under the Building and Construction On-site Award 2010.  The worker was paid $8,000.  
  • A Shepparton restaurant underpaid 19 wait staff – 10 of which were aged between 16 and 19 – by a combined $8,207. The employer misclassified the workers as level 1 staff and not at the level 2 rates they were entitled to under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010. After intervention by the FWO, the employer rectified the underpayments.  
  • In Cobram, two apprentices working as electrical contractors were underpaid $6,725 – representing correct hourly rates and applicable industry allowances under the Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2010.

According to James, this was the first time said businesses committed mistakes and they quickly rectified the issues, so the FWO determined a lengthy court proceeding would not be necessary.

“However, we revisit businesses that have been found non-compliant and these operators have been warned that if they continue to make mistakes, they can expect to be subject to court proceedings or an enforceable undertaking.”


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