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Ballarat bar workers warned of underpayment risk

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Media Release

Published on

Ballarat hospitality workers have been urged to check their rights following reports of underpayment of wages in the sector.

Slater and Gordon employment law expert Marcus Clayton said the national media reports last week highlighted the vulnerability of hospitality workers, many of whom were being paid as little as $10 an hour for cash-in-hand work – a third below the national minimum wage.

He said the warning was particularly relevant in cities like Ballarat, where there are large numbers of university students who rely on hospitality work.

“We hear about these sorts of practices in the hospitality industry from time-to-time, and workers need to remember they are illegal,” Mr Clayton said.

“We often hear of students and migrants doing this kind of work and not properly investigating their rights because they view the job as temporary or are worried what will happen if they ask questions.

“It is vital that workers remember they have rights, regardless of whether they are permanent or casual, and it is illegal for an employer to cut your shifts because you have asked them to do the right thing.”

For example:

  • Employers must pay wages that are at least equal to those contained in the relevant Award or Enterprise Agreement;
  • Depending on the hours you work, you may be entitled to penalty rates or loadings.  If you're a casual, you're entitled to a casual loading on your wage;
  • It is a breach of the Fair Work Act for an employer to sack you, or to stop rostering you for shifts, or even threaten to do so, if you:
    • are absent because of a genuine illness or injury;
    • ask them about your wages and whether you are being paid all your entitlements under the Award;
    • make a complaint about workplace safety or conditions to relevant government agencies or your union

“If you believe that you're not being paid what you should be paid, it is important that you raise the matter with your union,” Mr Clayton said.