What is underpayment of wages?
Underpayment of wages occurs when employer fails to pay minimum wages, allowances or penalty rates prescribed by the applicable instrument. The applicable instrument could be an award or an agreement. The employer may be prosecuted to recover the underpaid amounts.
Underpayment of wages claims must be made within 6 years of the date that the payment became due, however only 3 years for unpaid Long Service Leave claims.
How do you know you are paid the correct wages?
New immigrants in Australia may not be familiar with the concept of industrial awards. In Australia. An industrial award is a ruling handed down by the concerned authority, that grants all wage earners in one industry or occupation the same minimum pay rates and conditions of employment such as leave entitlements, overtime and shift work, as well as other workplace related conditions. Depending on the industry and type of job you do, your minimum award wages and conditions will differ. There are 122 industry or occupation awards that cover most people who work in Australia.
The national minimum wage is currently $18.29 per hour or $694.90 per 38-hour week (before tax). Casual employees covered by the national minimum wage also get at least a 25% casual loading. $20.24 for casual workers. All workers who are not in an award or agreement will come under national minimum wages.
Who else don’t come under this national minimum wages?
There is a different national minimum wages for the following category of people
- Trainees, apprentices and junior employees
2. Employees to whom training arrangements apply
3. Employees with a disability
This differentiation is done to enable these category of people to enter the job market with lower rates of pay. If you don’t fall in any of these categories, you are definitely entitled to at least the national minimum wages. No industrial award pays, less than national minimum wages.
Still confused? If you are unsure of the pay and leave entitlements, visit this page https://calculate.fairwork.gov.au/FindYourAward
If you want to talk to someone to clarify you pay and other entitlements, you can contact Fair Work Ombudsman. Your first contact will be with a friendly call centre operator, who will guide you through.
There are a multitude of ways you can contact the Fairwork Ombudsman.
How to contact fair work Australia?
Fair Work Online: www.fairwork.gov.au
Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94
Need language help?
Contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 13 14 50
Hearing & speech assistance
Call through the National Relay Service (NRS):
For TTY: 13 36 77. Ask for the Fair Work Infoline 13 13 94
Speak & Listen: 1300 555 727. Ask for the Fair Work Infoline 13 13 94
Under the Fair Work Act 2009 employers need to maintain employee pay records for seven years. You also have the right to receive a play slip within one business day of your pay. You must be paid atleast monthly.
Typical underpayment tactics
1.You are paid below minimum wages and you are told that the employer can afford only that much.
2. You are told that you are being trained for a job and you are paid much lower rate during the training period. The training period never ends.
3. The half pay scam – You are paid only half or a certain percentage of the minimum wages. You work longer hours every day to make the amount you get for an 8-hour shift with minimum wages. The employer records only 8 hours work in Time sheet. This way, you work for lower rates and misses on penalty rates for overtime.
4. The employer pays legally correct wages but the workers are forced to repay a portion of their wages back to the employer. This way the records don’t leave any proof for breach of law.
4. The employees are forced to work overtime and not remunerated for their overtime hours.
5. Workers are intimidated and threatened with instant dismissal to deter them from making complaints to the authorities.
What should you do if your situation doesn’t permit reporting the employer?
Most new comers to Australia are subjected to exploitation as they have limited options of getting a decently paid job. Unscrupulous employers make good the opportunity. If you are a student or a single mother, your vulnerability graph will touch the roof. If the situation puts you in a bear it all situation, you may do the following until can strike back. But always remember there is a 6 year cut off period for getting back your lost income.
You can use the time to gather evidence against your employer
1.Keep a diary of days and hours worked
2.Keep copies or records of employment details, pay slips, agreements and superannuation and tax documents.
3.Keep records of anything that you think will work in your favour.
The story of Pranay Alawala
Pranay Alawala has worked in four 7-Eleven stores around Brisbane and at each store he’s been underpaid.
At one store he was asked to train for a week without pay on the promise he would be hired. He wasn’t hired and was never paid for the 40-plus hours he worked at that store. One store owes him more than $30,000 in unpaid wages. He quit after getting a back injury at work. He later confronted his boss for the money he was owed but the franchisee’s lawyer sent him a letter threatening to report him to immigration for working more than 20 hours a week, which is in breach of his visa conditions as a student.
The story sounds similar to yours? It is time for you to contact the Fair work Ombudsman.
The Wage scams that shook the nation
The 7 -11 Wage scam – http://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2015/7-eleven-revealed/
Mand’s Indian Restaurant owner Diveye Kumar fined $200000 for slave labour – http://www.india2australia.com/mands-indian-restaurant-owner-divye-kumar-fined-200000-slave-labour/
Hallmark Computers Pty Ltd and owner Ashok Alexander fined for abusing 457 Visa Conditions – http://www.india2australia.com/hallmark-computers-pty-ltd-and-owner-ashok-alexander-fined-for-abusing-457-visa-conditions/
Former Indian Restaurant owner Farok Shaik allegedly ripped off $85844 in wages from Indian Couple – http://www.india2australia.com/former-indian-restaurant-owner-farok-shaik-allegedly-ripped-off-85844-in-wages-from-indian-couple/
The Sad story of Manjit Singh – http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/coroner-declares-tb-death-of-indian-man-manjit-singh-the-saddest-story-20150817-gj0sdr.html
The temple of Satan at Helensburgh – http://www.abc.net.au/pm/stories/s251922.htm
The worst case of extortion – http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/blackmail-extortion-and-slavery-at-a-restaurant-near-you-20170324-gv5usu.html
Sandeep Chokhani and Meena Chokhani Wage scam – https://www.facebook.com/notes/india2australiacom/name-and-shame/1191135897676321/
Pizza Hut Franchisee underpayment – http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/hindi/en/article/2017/06/15/legal-action-against-pizza-hut-franchisee-underpaid-indian-worker
International students shocked by Australian Working conditions – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-13/international-students-underpaid-australian-working-conditions/7586452
International student says boss told her she would be paid less as a non-Australian – http://www.theage.com.au/business/workplace-relations/international-student-says-boss-told-her-she-would-be-paid-less-as-a-nonaustralian-20160122-gmbuub.html?deviceType=text
Labour hire company fined for underpaying Indian Student – http://www.findlaw.com.au/news/6590/labour-hire-company-fined-48000-over-underpayment-.aspx
Melbourne Kebab shop underpays Indian Employee – https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/2011-media-releases/september-2011/20110905-shafi
So what are you waiting for?
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