Fair Work warning to employers to do the right thing for staff
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) says reports of alleged under-paying and exploitation of workers by a very small number of businesses is damaging the reputation of the vast majority who do the right thing.
CCIQ said it hopes such reports would simply trigger a timely reminder to business owners to meet their obligations under the Fair Work system.
CCIQ Senior Policy Advisor Catherine Pham said it was a shame that “bad apples were spoiling the whole bunch”.
“Without a doubt, the vast majority of Queensland businesses are doing the right thing, treating their employees with respect and adhering to all the Fair Work obligations and guidelines around pay,” she said.
“It is a shame that a small handful of businesses are damaging the reputation of these businesses that put aside valuable time and resources to ensure they adhere to all compliance measures.”
Ms Pham recognised that while there were unscrupulous business owners operating in Queensland, some instances of noncompliance may be due to not fully understanding the complex Fair Work system and not a deliberate intent to underpay their staff.
“The Fair Work Act in 2009 ushered in a new system that dramatically altered workplace relations arrangements for thousands of employers and employees in Queensland,” she said.
“No one can deny the complexity of the act and the 122 modern awards. However, these are not excuses for employer disregard of paying the correct wages to employees as responsibility under the law squarely rests with the employer.”
CCIQ’s senior employer assistance advisor Damian di Santo said the National Employment Standards and the 122 Modern Awards that govern the workplace landscape in Australia are designed to provide basic conditions of employment for all employees.
He said this legislation gives employers the framework to provide a safe workplace with minimum conditions and a structure to the workplace so that all employees are treated equally and fairly.
"The underpayment of wages in any business to any employees is against the law. The risks to a business by the associated underpayment of wages are – a substantial fine from the Fair Work Ombudsman as well as the back payment of all outstanding wages and the administration time taken to investigate, audit and rectify the wages shortfall," he said.
"As can be seen in this article the penalties to businesses for the underpayment of wages can be quite severe.
"Flat rates of pay generally, do not adequately cover the employee for all of their remuneration entitlements. Unless, the flat rate of pay is well in excess of the base rate of pay as stipulated by the relevant award."
Mr di Santo said to determine whether an employee is going to be engaged on a flat rate of pay an employer should conduct a Better Off Overall Test (BOOT).
"A better off overall test must include any overtime or penalty rates that will likely to be incurred on a normal week or roster cycle. If the flat rate of pay does not cover the base rate of pay plus any penalties incurred for weekend or overtime hours then the flat rate of pay must be increased.
"Employment contracts should be issued to all employees regardless of the classification of their role – Full Time, Part Time or Casual.
"Within the employment contract there should be reference made to the applicable award, the title of the role, reporting lines, the rate of pay, overtime provisions, hours of work/rosters, work location/s, all types of leave and other relevant policies and procedures that apply to the related workplace as a minimum."
Those CCIQ members who require further assistance in relation to the payment of wages or any other workplace related matter, please don’t hesitate to contact our Employer Assistance Team on 1300 731 988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org