The Fair Work Ombudsman has found over 750 retail workers across the country were unknowingly underpaid, and the watchdog is asking guilty businesses to reimburse affected staff – at a total cost of $585,000.
According to random audits of some 2000 retail employers, 755 retail staff were underpaid, with employees in New South Wales most impacted.
Fair Work inspectors found New South Wales employers accounted for 41 percent of the total underpayment, with businesses in the state being asked to reimburse $237,786 to 220 employees.
Inspectors also recouped:
- $153,820 for 187 staff in Victoria,
- $74,729 for 95 staff in South Australia,
- $45,071 for 125 staff in Queensland,
- $43,659 for 66 staff in Western Australia,
- $12,091 for 26 staff in Tasmania,
- $10,242 for 16 staff in the Northern Territory, and
- $8001 for 20 staff in the ACT.
According to Fair Work, in addition to underpayment of wages many employers weren’t paying penalty rates, were only employing adults, were incorrectly classifying employees to underpay entitlements and had staff setting up and closing without pay.
The ombudsman found pharmacies and other store-based retailers were the worst offenders, followed by electronics retailers and hardware, building and garden supply retailers. Department stores were found to have the lowest contravention rate in the retail sector.
According to Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson, “many employers underpay as the result of a lack of information or they make mistakes interpreting the information they have.”
“Our proactive work helps improve understanding among employers of their workplace responsibilities,” he added.
Fair work said a further 224 businesses remain under investigation.