Fair Work Australia, has made its first take-home pay order, ordering a women's fashion retailer to provide a female staff member with nine months of back pay.
Susan Balog, a Victorian single mother, whose pay was cut by $6.72 an hour when her pay was shifted to a 'modern award' at the start of the year is the first person in Australia to get a “take home pay order”. Take-home pay orders were introduced as part of the Labor Government's Fair Work industrial relations regime.
Under the new Modern Award, which came into effect on January 1, Balog's hourly rate fell from $19.83 to $16.47. When a 200 per cent loading for Sunday work was taken into account, take-home hourly rate fell from $39.66 to $32.94.
"It is apparent that the take-home pay of the applicant for working on a Sunday has decreased by an amount of $6.72 per hour, inclusive of the 200 per cent loading," Kaufmann wrote in his judgement.
While the employer said it was simply complying with the new Award, and had offered to give Balog more hours to make up for her lower pay, Kaufmann stated:
"While I accept that the employer did not wish to decrease the applicant's take-home pay, and thus offered her additional hours, I do not accept that the offer is acceptable as an alternative to a take-home pay order. The employer, in essence, is seeking that the employee work more hours for less pay."
What is 'take-home pay'?
Take-home pay is the pay an employee or outworker actually receives after tax and certain deductions such as salary sacrificing arrangements.
It includes wages, allowances, overtime payments and any incentive-based payments.
The introduction of modern awards is not intended to result in a reduction in the take-home pay of employees or outworkers
About take-home pay orders
To obtain a take-home pay order, an employee or outworker must be eligible, and must make an application in writing to Fair Work Australia, the national workplace relations tribunal.
Fair Work Australia is an independent body with power to carry out a range of functions. Its work is carried out by members with the support of administrative staff.
The person making the application is known as the applicant and the relevant employer is the respondent.
If successful in gaining a take-home pay order an employee or outworker will have their take-home pay preserved while they remain in the same job.
Who can apply for a take-home pay order?
An application for a take-home pay order can be made by:
an employee or outworker who believes the introduction of modern awards has led, or will lead, to a reduction in their take-home pay
a union that is entitled to represent the industrial interests of such an employee or outworker
a person acting on behalf of an individual employee or outworker or a group of such employees or outworkers who have similar circumstances.
For more information see http://www.fwa.gov.au