A Victorian snowfields lodging provider has been forced to pay workers more than AUD 15,000 in back pay following recent intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
A business at Mansfield, a small town in the foothills of the Victoria Alps, short-changed 21 of its casual employees a total of AUD 9000 as a result of underpaying their minimum hourly rates and penalty rates for night and weekend work.
The largest single underpayment was AUD 1340.
The underpayments occurred during last year’s snow season and were discovered by Fair Work inspectors during proactive audit activity focusing on snowfields employers.
In a separate matter, a business at Rutherglen reimbursed 16 cleaners, waiters and kitchen staff a total of AUD 6800 after underpaying their minimum hourly rates and penalty rates for weekend and shift work between July and October last year.
The largest single underpayment was AUD 3672.
The inadvertent underpayments were the result of the employer’s lack of awareness of the lawful minimum pay rates that applied under the Hospitality Industry Award.
Fair Work inspectors discovered the underpayments when they proactively audited the business.
Both businesses promptly back-paid employees all money owed after Fair Work inspectors explained their obligations under workplace laws.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says her Agency is working hard to build a culture of compliance with workplace laws in Australia by providing practical advice that is easy to access, understand and apply.
“It is important that there be a fair, competitive environment for employers who are doing the right thing by creating a level playing field in relation to business costs,” she said.
“Anyone operating a business needs to ensure they take the time to understand the workplace laws applicable to their business.”
The Accomodation Association of Australia (AAoA) drew attention to the cases, pointing out that a key benefit of AAoA’s membership is the workplace relations advisory service that provides members with timely advice about wage rates, award conditions, workers compensation, workplace health and safety and other employment matters.
“Members have access to a broad range of tools and templates to assist with these issues and with the day-to-day management of workplace relations.
“Membership service extends to discounted representation in the Fair Work Commission for matters like defending unfair dismissal claims.
“The Association has an excellent track record looking after members’ interests, especially in ensuring compliance with lawful obligations. “
Edited by Peter Needham