Australia’s complex system of laws, award and agreements can lead to employers (particularly small businesses) unintentionally underpaying their employees. This can have significant consequences. For employees it means living on an unfairly low wage. For employers it can mean serious penalties. In January this year the Fair Work Ombudsman fined a Launceston takeaway restaurant $100,000 for underpaying a Chinese chef on a 457 visa and creating false wage records. In June 2014 the Melbourne based La Porchetta restaurants that paid more than 100 young workers in pizza and soft drinks were fined $335,000 by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
So how can workers and employers guard against underpayments?
Underpayment of wages claims are usually made in the South Australian Industrial Relations Court. An employee has up to 6 years from the date the amount was due to make an Underpayment of Wages claim. The process for making a claim is as follows:
If an employer is found to have underpaid staff it will be required to pay the money back and may also have to pay fines up to $33,000 per breach.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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