The outcome of an inquiry by the Fair Work Ombudsman has found ‘seven cleaners at a Salisbury business were reimbursed $32,000 – an average $4571 each – after being short-changed over a 12-month period,’ stated a 20 March press release.
This was one of many businesses audited during a national campaign focused on the cleaning industry that recovered $763,000 for workers nationally, including $68,000 in South Australia.
The employees were paid flat hourly rates above the minimum, but not enough to cover penalty rates for overtime and shift work and according to the release, the underpayments occurred because the employer was ‘unaware of the minimum wage rates applicable to the business’.
Both employers co-operated with Fair Work inspectors and promptly reimbursed the employees all money owed, without the need for enforcement action.
“Unfortunately, we still see cases where employers pay flat hourly wage rates without considering whether overtime or penalty rates might apply,” says Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.
“It’s important for employers to ensure they are fully aware of the wage rates applicable to their business, particular where overtime, weekend or evening shifts are involved.”
“We recognise that errors happen, so we have a flexible and fair approach when inadvertent mistakes occur and to employers who are willing to co-operate with us to ensure they don’t occur in the future,” she said.
James says the Fair Work Ombudsman is making compliance easier for businesses by continually building on the information available on its website. “Small businesses often don’t have the benefit of in-house human resources and payroll staff, so we place a high priority on assisting them,” she said.
“Equipping people with the information they need helps to create fair and productive workplaces, as well as ensuring a level playing field for all.”