Two hospitality workers in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula have been backpaid $22,000 following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

One employee, a waitress and restaurant supervisor at a local winery, was underpaid $14,000 between 2007 and 2014. She was paid a flat hourly rate of $25, which didn’t cover weekend and night penalty rates applicable under the Restaurant Industry Award.

The second employee, a barista at a caf in the region, was underpaid $8,000 between 2009 and 2015, throughout which she was also paid a flat hourly rate, which didn’t cover the penalty rates she was entitled to.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said employers need to be aware that paying employees a flat rate that is above the minimum normal hourly rate does not automatically negate the need to pay penalty rates.

“Businesses need to ensure they understand the wage rates applicable to their employees, including penalty rates for overtime, weekend, public holiday and evening shifts,” she said.

“A small mistake left over time can easily result in a hefty bill for back-payment of wages – so it is important employers get it right in the first place.”

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