YOUNG workers, especially those in hospitality and retail, should be wary of being underpaid over the Christmas holiday period, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten says.
Last January, between 800 and 1000 employees complained to the Fair Work Ombudsman about not being paid properly over the Christmas and new year period.
Mr Shorten on Tuesday warned employers, and especially those that hire many young and casual staff such as restaurants, bars and retailers, that they needed to pay them properly.
''Every Christmas and new year, literally hundreds of people are being underpaid,'' Mr Shorten said. ''I don't think anyone can stand by and say, 'It's a good thing to see hundreds of people ripped off'.''
The Ombudsman last year recovered $2131 in public holiday pay for two Melbourne restaurant workers who were underpaid on public holidays.
Many restaurant owners are saying weekend and public holiday pay rates need to be slashed because they are crippling the industry and bankrupting many venues.
But Mr Shorten said businesses saying they could not afford to open on public holidays needed to focus on their ''real challenges'' instead of blaming penalty rates.
''Who do you think can go to your shops, who do you think can eat in your restaurants if people aren't earning a decent living wage?'' Mr Shorten said.
''Australia is not Bali, it is not Thailand, it is not a Third World country.''
The Fair Work Ombudsman's office on Tuesday launched its campaign targeting employers to ensure they understood their legal pay requirements.