Aidan Martin thought he was on his way to a successful and lucrative career as a plumber, but just two weeks into his apprenticeship with a Brisbane company, he discovered that he was being underpaid.
The 21 year-old (pictured) was being paid an hourly rate of $11.67, instead of the $19.07 an hour that he was entitled to.
“The fact that they were charging me out as a fully qualified tradesman, at $90 an hour, and I was only seeing $11 of that, and the fact that I was putting in the hard yards every day – it was pretty draining, it was hard to keep any form of positive relationship with those guys,” he told the Queensland parliamentary inquiry into wage theft.
After his three month probation period ended, Aidan confronted his bosses about the wage theft, and asked for the money he was owed – days later, they sacked him.
“I wasn’t asking for more money, I was just asking for what I was entitled to.”
Hairdresser paid as little as $4 an hour
Alanna West was 15 when she started a hairdressing apprenticeship at a Sunshine Coast salon, but was paid as little as $4 an hour, wasn’t paid any superannuation, and wasn’t allowed to take lunch breaks.
“I knew it was wrong. I went and got their lunches instead of eating mine,” she told the inquiry.
Stories heard by the Queensland wage theft inquiry
Aidan and Alanna’s stories form part of a submission by Industrial Relations Claims to the wage theft inquiry currently underway in Queensland.
WAGETHEFT.net.au is a division of IR Claims.
“Unfortunately these stories are typical of the ones we hear every week,” Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at IR Claims said.
“Young people are often not aware of their workplace rights, and even if they are, it is not always easy for them to speak up and do something about it.
“In the case of both of these young workers, when they did query the wage theft, they were sacked – it’s absolutely disgraceful, and it happens far too often.”
IR Claims was able to negotiate $15,000 compensation for Aidan and $15,000 compensation for Alanna.
Hairdresser facing court for underpaying apprentice
In a separate case, Jakoub Abboud, who runs the Hair-Rass Me salon in Sydney, is facing court after allegedly underpaying a 15 year-old apprentice $14,507 over 12 months in 2015.
It’s alleged that the teenager worked up to 50 hours a week, and was paid in one instance just $300, when she should have received $653.90.
It will also be alleged that Mr Abboud failed to pay superannuation and failed to reimburse the apprentice for a training course, which he was required to do by law.
He will appear in the Federal Circuit Court this month, and faces penalties of up to $12,600 per contravention and his company up to $63,000 per contravention.
If you have not received your proper wages and entitlements, or are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.
Please call our specialist team at WAGETHEFT.net.au on
1300 1 THEFT (1300 184 338)
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