Workers retrieve pay

Inspectors found some employers had been underpaying their employees.
Inspectors found some employers had been underpaying their employees. Rob Wright

MORE than half a million dollars in back-pay was recovered for Australian retail workers during a Fair Work Ombudsman campaign.

The National Retail Campaign carried out random audits of 1866 employers around the country, with one of those completed on the Sunshine Coast.

A FWO spokesman said that Coast employer was non-compliant and contravened payslip regulations, but there was no back-pay awarded as it was considered not appropriate in this particular case.

The types of retail businesses targeted included furniture, floor covering, homewares; electrical and electronic; hardware, building and garden supplies; recreational goods.

Also, clothing, footwear and personal accessories; department stores; pharmaceutical and other store-based retailing ventures.

Of the $585,000 recovered for a total of 755 staff, $45,071 was awarded in Queensland to 125 staff.

Of the employers audited so far, 492 (26%) have recorded a total of 653 contraventions, primarily relating to underpayment of wages, failure to conform with payslip requirements and failure to adhere to time and wage requirements.

A further 224 businesses are under investigation by the authorities.

In addition to underpayment of wages, inspectors also found some retailers were employing adults only, potentially in breach of anti-discrimination laws, unlawfully requiring staff to make purchases in-house and deducting the price from the employee's wages, incorrectly classifying their employees and thus underpaying their entitlements, and expecting staff to perform set up and closing duties outside of trading hours for no payment.

The retail sector was earmarked for the campaign effort after generating 4204 complaints in 2008-09, the highest of any sector for that year.

"Many employers underpay as the result of a lack of information or they make mistakes interpreting the information they have," Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said.

"We aim to improve compliance with workplace laws through an integrated approach that combines positive motivators, such as advice and education, with deterrents such as investigation and litigation activities."

Topics:  better business fair work ombudsman pay workers

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