Fair Work Ombudsman spot checks must focus on preventing wage-theft

The Fair Work inspections of up to 50 randomly selected businesses in Woden, Weston Creek and Queanbeyan must focus on wage-theft said UnionsACT today.

The inspections will check that employers are paying the correct minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, allowances and loadings and providing appropriate meal breaks.

As many as four in ten businesses in Canberra currently do not pay the correct minimum hourly rates or pay superannuation to their workers, which amounts to wage-theft.

Most recently in Canberra, wage-theft was found at the Crust Gourmet Pizza chain, Penny University cafe and across the national 7-Eleven franchise.

Underpayments have amounted to tens of thousands of dollars in many instances, with one Canberra restaurant underpaying staff by a total of $50,996, and a Canberra franchise underpaying a single staff member by over $10,000.

Employers and businesses have a legal and moral obligation to ensure their staff receive the correct minimum standards, securities and wages.

The minimum wage in Australia is $656.90 per week (for a 38 hour week), or $17.29 per hour. Casual employees are entitled to a 25% loading on top of the base rate, and most modern awards include weekend and evening penalty rates as well.

The following statements can be attributed to Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT:

“Employers in Canberra have an obligation to pay their staff correctly.

“Underpayments and non-payment of entitlements like casual loading, penalty rates is theft, plain and simple.

“Most wage-theft occurs against young people and migrant workers.

“Not only are these unscrupulous employers preying on their staff, but they are unfairly competing with the sixty percent of businesses that do the right thing.

“If you are being paid less than the minimum wage, not getting a casual loading or not receiving your superannuation, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman or your union immediately.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman media release is available here.

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