The workers were based in the Newcastle and Hunter region of NSW, and were victims of poor compliance practices and checks of their employers.
In one matter, a young labourer in Lake Macquarie was back-paid $25,220 after he was underpaid as a result of being incorrectly classified as an apprentice.
Essentially, it was agreed the labourer would commence an apprenticeship, but the employer failed to properly complete the paperwork and registration process required to enter into a formal training arrangement.
Consequently, the labourer was paid lower rates than he was entitled to, and the employer had not taken the appropriate steps to ensure compliance.
“Employers must be aware that we are prepared to take enforcement action in response to reckless, deliberate or repeated breaches of pay and record keeping laws,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.
“We conduct follow-up audits of businesses previously found to be non-compliant to make sure they have changed their ways. Repeat offenders can expect to be subject to serious enforcement action including potential litigation.
“In our experience many businesses are overconfident when it comes to the intricacies of our workplace laws, however we will be taking an increasingly hard line with employers who have significant compliance issues and cannot demonstrate that they made a diligent effort to understand what award or industrial instrument applies to their workplace, what the correct classification for their employees is, and what minimum pay rates apply.”