FWO discovered the underpayment of the regional apprentice during its program of proactive auditing in regional areas.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $6500 for a young apprentice at Roxby Downs, in northern South Australia.
The apprentice, who was aged under 21, was paid a flat hourly rate of $15 over a 10-month period in the 2015-16 financial year at a local business in the town. However, she was entitled to receive rates of up to more than $18 under the Award that applied to her position.
Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors discovered the underpayment as part of its program of proactive auditing in regional areas. After inspectors educated the business operator about its obligations under workplace laws, the operator acknowledged that it should have been more proactive about ensuring it was meeting the employee’s minimum lawful entitlements. Inspectors issued the business with a Letter of Caution, placing it on notice that subsequent contraventions could result in enforcement action.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says it is not acceptable for employers to pay young workers flat rates of pay that are below minimum Award rates.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman’s website has a range to tools and resources to assist small business owners to understand and comply with their obligations,” James said.
James says the Agency is particularly focused on assisting young workers because they can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their rights or reluctant to complain.
“For a young worker, one of the best defences against being short-changed is an awareness of your workplace rights and the knowledge that you can turn to the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice and assistance if you have concerns,” she said.