A Brisbane caf that paid a young barista as little as $10 an hour has been cautioned over its workplace practices.

The caf underpaid the 19 year old a total of $6650 over six months.

The teenager was paid flat rates of between $10 and $13 an hour while working at the caf, in the CBD, between June and December last year.

The barista was treated as a contractor and told he needed to acquire an Australian Business Number (ABN).

However, the worker should have been classified as a casual employee, not an independent contractor.

Under the Restaurant Industry Award, he should have received casual hourly rates of $23.09 for normal hours, $27.71 at weekends and $46.18 for public holidays.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Mark Scully said employers should be aware that simply calling a worker a ‘contractor’ and requiring them to obtain an ABN does not automatically make them a contractor under workplace laws.

“Contracting arrangements can be appropriate, but not as a mechanism to reduce payments to workers who are performing specified duties at specified times under direction from an employer,” Scully said.

Employers with concerns about the classification of their workers can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for advice and assistance.

Scully said the Brisbane caf will be audited again in six months to ensure its ongoing compliance with workplace laws.

Employers must undertake their own checks of Award provisions and periodically revise their compliance.

“Our online tools and resources can assist employers to determine their applicable Modern Award, as well as classification and pay rates, including base pay rates, allowances, overtime and penalty rates,” said Scully.

“Our focus is on educating employers about their obligations and assisting them to put processes in place to ensure that any errors we find don't occur again.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman is working hard to build a culture of compliance with workplace laws in Australia by providing practical advice that is easy to access, understand and apply.

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