There has recently been a swathe of news reports focusing on the wage underpayment involving staff among some of Australia’s largest and highest-profile corporate employers.
Wesfarmers, Qantas, Woolworths, Commonwealth Bank, Super Retail Group and George Colombaris’ MADE group are among the big-name organisations across several sectors to have breached workplace laws.
While these cases garner plenty of attention and the cost of back payments and compensation are truly eye-watering, the financial implications are a blip on the radar for many of these businesses.
The reputational damage they face and the impact of underpayment on the affected employees, however, is far more significant.
Compliance with Fair Work laws is not only a concern for big business. With the complexity of modern awards comes a greater risk of payment or entitlement breaches by employers of any size.
If Woolworths can get it wrong with the huge team and immense resources they have at their disposal, anyone can.
Compliance should be a focus for all businesses, including accurate record-keeping practices, annual pay reconciliations and if needed, an audit of payroll systems and processes.
Other than a few roles, such as Park Managers, most Tourist Park employees fall under the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010.
Park Managers, like all employees in Australia, do have minimum entitlements under the National Employment Standards (NES). Given the wage bracket that Managers typically fall into, the odd numbers of hours worked, weekend and public holiday work and the on-call (on-site) nature of their employment, it is not uncommon for their actual annualised pay for hours worked to fall below minimum NES requirements.
The most common underpayment issues include not paying the correct overtime and penalty rates and classifying staff at the incorrect award level for their role.
In the case of MADE, breaches have resulted in a $200,000 fine in addition to back-payment of some 500 staff. They are also required to engage independent auditors to check pay and conditions every year until 2022.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker has stressed that prioritising workplace compliance from the outset, including accurate record keeping, can prevent significant issues further down the track.
In any business, large or small, record-keeping is vital to success. Record-keeping and pay slip obligations ensure employees receive correct wages and entitlements.
Cloud-based payroll systems can ensure Fair Work compliance by automating all the rules for modern awards, including pay rates and conditions/entitlements.
To make sure your business is compliant, seek professional advice, visit fairwork.gov.au and review payroll systems and processes.