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Avoid the tidal wave – understand your employee entitlements

Avoid the tidal wave – understand your employee entitlements (Last Updated On: November 21, 2016)

With the updates to Modern Awards and Minimum Wage taking effect next month, it is crucial that you check and re-check you are paying your staff accordingly.

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently examined six companies following investigations that employees working on Sydney Harbour boats were being underpaid.

At the forefront of this case is All Occasion Cruises’ where it is believed that more than 40 employees, across their group of charter boats have been “short changed their minimum hourly rates, causal loading and overtime”.

Following lengthy discussion with Fair Work inspectors, sole director Joe Elias’ agreed to revamp all his workplace practices, signing an ‘Enforceable Undertaking’ that commits his company to future compliance with workplace law. He was also issued with a Compliance Notice and Letter of Caution for his actions.

Natalie James from the Fair Work Ombudsman expressed major concern over the fact that many operators were unaware of the relevant award their employees fell under, which ultimately leads to incorrect payments.

All Occasion Cruises’ were found to being paying some employees under the incorrect award, they weren’t providing the required advice of shifts in writing and short-changing employees on overnight shifts. They also failed to keep correct employee records and issue payslips in the prescribed form.

Mr Elias has been instructed to conduct a full review of all employees’ entitlements from August to December last year, and will fully reimburse anything outstanding by July 1 this year. He has also been ordered to partake in workplace relations training in human resources, payroll functions, and the recruitment and termination process.

In 2009 Enforceable Undertakings were introduced by the legislation and the Fair Work Ombudsman with exceptional outcomes. Natalie James states; “we use Enforceable Undertakings where we have formed a view that a breach of the law has occurred, but where the employer has acknowledged this and accepted responsibility and agreed to co-operate and fix the problem.”

Ms James also suggest that the aim of this initiative is to assist in building a “greater understanding of workplace responsibilities, while motivating the company to do the right thing”.

This example shows how easy it is to confuse employment legislation. Come 1 July, changes will be enforced and it is up to you to make sure your staff are allocated the correct entitlements. Enforceable Undertaking can be a costly affair, so don’t get lost in it all.

If you any questions or concerns relating to these changes or even if you are unsure about the current staff entitlements, please contact Employsure on 1300 651 415. We are Australia’s leading employment relations consultants with specialists in the field available 24 hours, 7 days per week.

Source: Fair Work Ombudsman

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