The ombudsman found 33 shop assistants at a chain of retail outlets were underpaid a total of $74,532 over seven months. The employees worked at various locations around Perth.
Shop assistants were underpaid their base hourly rate, casual loading and weekend and public holiday penalty rates, and were not appropriately remunerated for the minimum shift period of three hours.
The workers also had amounts unlawfully deducted from their wages to cover till shortages, and were not paid the amount they were entitled to under the relevant award for weekend work.
Fair Work Inspectors determined that the errors occurred as a result of the operator relying upon the advice and knowledge of a bookkeeper that had been engaged to carry out pay and record keeping duties.
The operator co-operated with the Fair Work Ombudsman and has rectified the underpayments.
Fair Work Inspectors issued the business with a Letter of Caution, notifying it that its employment and record keeping practices will be subject to audit again in future and enforcement action. This includes potential litigation if further contraventions are found.
“In each of these matters a lack of understanding of workplace obligations led to employers breaching the law by not paying workers their legal entitlements,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.
“Mistakes like this can add up over time and leave an employer with a hefty bill for back-payments they were not budgeting for.”