A Ballarat man was owed almost $30,000 before his Melbourne-based security company was pulled up by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman said he was underpaid his normal hourly rate, casual loadings, shift allowances, weekend and public holiday penalty rates and overtime rates between 2009 and 2013.
He was paid less than $20 an hour for public holiday work – $20 less than the proper rate of $37.73 an hour.
The company, unnamed by the Ombudsman, was only issued a Letter of Caution after the underpayment.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said company co-operated with inspectors and so avoided harsher penalties.
“When we find employers who have made mistakes, our preference is always to educate them about their obligations and work with the business to resolve the issues outside of the Courts,” she said.
Ms James recommended regular checking of payrolls.
“A small mistake left over time can easily result in a hefty bill for back-payment of wages – so it is important employers get it right in the first place.”
Another security company was named and shamed for underpaying a worker watching over the Ballarat rail yards in 2009 but that case went to court.
Ballarat Regional Trades and Labour Council secretary Brett Edgington said it was a good outcome.
“In this case the boss has copped it, said ‘I’ve underpaid’,” he said.
“Not all end that way unfortunately.”
Mr Edgington said ignorance was no excuse for employers underpaying workers.
“There’s the Fair Work website, the Ombudsman’s hotline, where employer can call up and ask, there’s so many places (to find out the correct wages),” he said.
Separately, Mr Edgington said there was less oversight in regional areas from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
“In Melbourne you see a lot of cases where the Fair Work Ombudsman is running raids, but unfortunately in places like Ballarat and Bendigo, they are not really here a lot,” he said.
“The feeling amongst some employers is that they can just get away with (underpayment).”
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