Three quarters of ‘cheap eat’ establishments underpay their staff

By Portner Press on December 17th, 2019
  1. Industrial Instruments
  2. Fair Work Act

Are employers really concerned about correctly paying their staff?

It appears many still aren’t.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) discovered this when it conducted an audit swoop on popular ‘cheap eat’ establishments in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.

The FWO found 75 per cent of the businesses it targeted had breached workplace laws, with a massive 85 per cent of the businesses it audited in Melbourne found to be non-compliant.

Since the operation, the FWO has ordered $316,674 to be returned to 608 underpaid workers.

The most common breaches were:

  • underpayment of minimum hourly rates (34 per cent);
  • failure to provide correct payslips (15 per cent); and
  • underpayment or non-payment of weekend penalty rates (11 per cent).

Lack of understanding no excuse

FWO’s Sandra Parker said that many of the breaches were a result of “businesses not understanding their lawful obligations to their workers”.

“This is no excuse for underpaying employees so I’d suggest that employers invest in workplace law compliance before we come knocking,” she said.

While some employers may plead ignorance, it looks like employees are becoming increasingly aware of their legal entitlements – and are prepared to do something about it.

The FWO audited 156 businesses in precincts in these cities after receiving anonymous tip offs and requests for assistance.

Exploitation of hospitality workers endemic

“It is disappointing that we uncovered such large amounts of underpayments in popular food districts across Australia, with some of the community’s most vulnerable workers underpaid, but unfortunately it’s not surprising,” Ms Parker said.

“Reducing worker exploitation in the fast food, restaurant and cafe sectors is a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman. We’re working hard to change the culture of underpayment across this sector and businesses are firmly on notice. Any workers with concerns should contact us.”


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