The Fair Work Ombudsman recently assisted a hospitality worker on the Gold Coast to recover unpaid wages and entitlements.

The worker, employed as both a kitchen hand and maintenance and gardening worker at a Coolangatta resort, was reimbursed $17,057 after being underpaid for almost four years.

The worker was underpaid his penalty rates for evening work, weekend and public holiday work, and was not paid overtime rates or allowances for broken periods of work. 

Furthermore, his employer failed to review and adjust the worker’s wages each year in line with annual wage increases.

Under a salary arrangement, the employee received a flat rate of $19.74 for all hours worked which did not meet the minimum entitlements for full-time employment as prescribed by the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010.

As a kitchen hand the worker should have received $19.95 to $22.24 on Saturdays, $27.93 to $31.13 on Sundays, $23.94 to $26.69 for public holidays, $17.77 to $19.80 for evening work and $23.94 to $35.58 for overtime hours.

The employee was also entitled to receive a higher rate of pay for undertaking gardening and maintenance duties when he was engaged in those duties for two hours or more on one day.

The business avoided enforcement action by co-operating with Fair Work Inspectors and voluntarily agreeing to reimburse the workers.

However, Fair Work Inspectors issued the business with a Letter of Caution, placing it on notice that further contraventions of workplace laws may lead to enforcement action, including litigation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said small business owners must ensure they abide by the minimum wage rates applicable to their business.

“When we find errors, our preference is to rectify any underpayments as quickly as possible, educate employers about their obligations and assist them to put processes in place to ensure mistakes are not repeated,” James said.

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