Are you being paid your correct wage? Now is the time to check, according to employment law experts.
“The longer you leave it before you check your employer is paying the correct wage, the harder it is to recover stolen wages,” industrial advocate Miles Heffernan said.
What is wage theft?
Wage theft happens when your employer doesn’t pay you the legal minimum amount as set out in your award or agreement.
It can take many forms, including not paying you the correct hourly rate, not paying penalty rates, overtime, allowances or not paying your superannuation.
It can also involve your boss refusing leave, or paying you cash in hand, or making you pay back some of your wages for mistakes or breakages that happen at work.
Wage theft is common in the hospitality, retail, hair & beauty, farming and fast food sectors.
The correct wage must equal or be more than the national minimum wage
The current national minimum wage is $719.20 a week, or $18.93 an hour.
If your wage is lower than that, is is likely that your boss is ripping you off.
Specific pay rates for different jobs vary, depending on the applicable award or agreement.
To find out which award applies to your job, go to Fair Work Ombudsman Find My Award.
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Recovering stolen wages
If you find your boss is underpaying you, contact an employment law expert.
Recently, WAGETHEFT.net.au helped 21 year-old apprentice plumber Aiden Martin recover $15,000.
His employer paid him an hourly rate of $11.67 when the award stipulated $19.07.
When he confronted his bosses demanding his stolen wages, they sacked him.
In another recent case, WAGETHEFT.net.au recovered $13,575 for chef Catherine Black.
Black worked under a contract which stipulated a 38-hour working week, however her boss constantly demanded she work overtine.
Black calculated that over a nine month period, she worked 444 extra hours – unpaid.
Instead of paying the overtime, Black’s boss gave her movie tickets and even a voucher for a free canoe trip down the Brisbane River.
“Unfortunately wage theft is common, but the good news is, there is help available if you want to recover what you are owed,” Mr Heffernan said.
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