Cafe coffee machine in action making espresso. Penalty rates for Sunday workers have been upheld by the Federal Court.

Twenty-one workers across Victoria’s Gippsland region have been back-paid more than $21,000 in wages and entitlements after intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said the employing businesses are on notice that future breaches of workplace laws will not be tolerated.

In one matter, six café workers in Warragul, including a teenager, were underpaid $8749 after the employer incorrectly classified the employees.

The employer’s errors led to underpayments of the workers’ ordinary hourly rates as well as their weekend and public holiday penalty rates under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.

The workers were repaid after the Fair Work Ombudsman intervened and informed the business of its obligations under the law.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said in each of the three cases it was the first time the employer had come to the agency’s attention and the errors were quickly rectified.

Each business is on notice that further mistakes could result in serious enforcement action, including litigation and the potential for hefty penalties.

“Business operators can become overconfident and as we have seen, this can lead to mistakes like forgetting to pass increases applied in the annual wage review or paying your workers at the incorrect level within the modern award,”  says Hannah.

“While these mistakes may be careless rather than malicious, the fact remains that there has never been more freely available information for employers than there is right now so there are no excuses for making these mistakes.

“In these cases we decided the best outcome was to make sure the workers were repaid quickly and lengthy court proceedings were not necessary.”

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