$23,000 recovered for underpaid food workers

Posted by James Ferre on 25th August 2009

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered back-payments totalling $23,000 for eight food salespeople in Melbourne’s east and south-eastern suburbs over the past three months.Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell reported that the casual salespeople – who no longer work for the operator of food outlets in the Monash and Glen Eira local government areas – were underpaid the minimum hourly rate as a result of the employer failing to pay them according to the applicable award.

“In this case, the employer has quickly reimbursed the $23,000 after discussions with our inspectors about payment obligations under federal workplace laws,” he advised. “Employers need to ensure they pay workers correctly and recognise that staff members who perform different functions, such as customer service workers and food production workers, may need to be paid according to different industrial instruments.”

Mr Campbell believes the main reason for the large majority of the underpayments is employers not properly understanding their obligations under workplace laws.

“We have chosen not to pursue litigation in these cases, but employers need to be aware that they can face fines of up $33,000 per breach of workplace relations law,” he explained.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fwo.gov.au.