Hobart Businesses Back-pay Workers After Fwo Intervenes

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27th November 2009, 10:30am - Views: 773






People Feature Fair Work Ombudsman 2 image


Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94 



Media Release





     27 Nov 2009


Hobart businesses back-pay workers after Fair

Work Ombudsman intervenes


A

baker’s assistant, a deck-hand on a fishing boat and a transport company yard

hand in Hobart have been back-paid thousands of dollars following recent

investigations by the Fair Work Ombudsman into their pay and conditions.


A

Hobart butcher randomly audited during a recent national campaign targeting

the food services industry was also found to have underpaid five of its staff more

than $47,400 – an average of $9480 each.


Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says the underpayments highlight the

need for employers to regularly seek up-to-date information on wage rates and

conditions.


He says the significant underpayment of the five butchers had occurred because

the employer inadvertently failed to pass on Award wage increases dating back to

2006.


Mr Wilson says the butchers are long-serving employees and the business

immediately voluntarily rectified the issue after inspectors identified the problem

and is now paying their correct entitlements.


He says other recent recoveries for Hobart workers have reinforced the need for

employers to double-check their legal obligations to staff.


They include:



A yard hand at a transport company short-changed $13,800 in wages,

accrued annual leave and long-service leave entitlements when he left the

company,



Seven junior staff (under 21) at a bakery underpaid a total of $6200

because they were receiving less than the applicable Award, 



A deck-hand on a fishing boat underpaid $3200 for hours worked, and



The manager of a retail outlet underpaid $2700 because he received a flat

rate of pay regardless of hours worked. 


Mr Wilson says his office recovered more than $1 million for 598 workers in

Tasmania last financial year.


Inspectors in Hobart and Launceston finalised 498 complaints and recorded 227

breaches of workplace law.


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People Feature Fair Work Ombudsman 3 image






Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94 


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Mr Wilson says most underpayments are the result of a lack of understanding by

employers of their legal obligations, including applicable Awards and pay scales.


“That’s why the Fair Work Ombudsman places such a strong focus on educating

employers and assisting them to understand and comply with workplace laws,” he

said.


“We have chosen not to pursue litigation in these cases after working with the

employers to help them voluntarily rectify the issues inspectors have identified.


“In most cases, we do not prosecute employers for accidental or inadvertent

breaches of workplace law.


“However, employers need to be aware they can face fines of up to $33,000 per

breach if the matter goes to court.”


In April this year, the operator of the Caltex petrol station at La Trobe in

Tasmania was fined a total of $241,000 – the second highest penalty achieved by

the Fair Work Ombudsman for any of its prosecutions – for underpaying six of its

employees.


TKM Investments Pty Ltd was fined $201,300 and company director Grania

Kathleen Loone a further $40,260. The Federal Magistrates Court also ordered

that back-pay of $41,000 outstanding to six workers be repaid.  


Mr Wilson says any employer or employee seeking up-to-date information on

wage rates and conditions should visit www.fwo.gov.au or contact the Fair Work

Infoline on 13 13 94.


Eleven Best Practice Guides have been developed by the Fair Work Ombudsman

to assist employers make better use of the provisions of the Fair Work Act and

better understand other aspects of workplace laws.


The new guides are on the website and cover work and family, consultation and

co-operation, individual flexibility arrangements, employing young workers,

gender pay equity, small business, workplace privacy, managing

underperformance, effective dispute resolution and improving workplace

productivity in bargaining. 


The Fair Work Ombudsman promotes harmonious, productive and co-operative

workplaces. It also monitors compliance and investigates breaches of national

workplace laws. 


NOTE – We are unable to identify individual businesses or provide additional

information about the cases listed.


Media inquiries: 


Craig Bildstien, 0419 818 484 Email: craig.bildstien@fwo.gov.au

Ryan Pedler: Mob: 0434 365 924; Email: ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au









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