More than two dozen apprentice bakers, baker’s assistants, and bakery shop assistants, half of them aged under 21, have been reimbursed after the Fair Work Ombudsman found they had been underpaid.
The 26 employers worked for Bakers Delight retail stores in Bateau Bay and Wyong in regional NSW which were run by a franchisee, JCMA Pty Ltd.
The workers were underpaid their minimum hourly rates of pay, casual loadings, weekend and public holiday penalty rates, and shift allowances.
The individual underpayments ranged from $104 to $3672.
Three staff were underpaid by more than $3000, four by more than $2000, and seven by more than $1000.
The underpayments came to light after the Fair Work Ombudsman conducted a proactive audit of JCMA’s stores. The company no longer operates the Wyong shop.
Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, says JCMA cooperated fully and has rectified the underpayments and put processes in place to ensure its future compliance with federal workplace laws.
JCMA has also signed an Enforceable Undertaking, in which it agrees to conduct further self auditing to ensure its employees are receiving their full, lawful entitlements and to register and use the Fair Work Ombudsman’s new online tool My Account.
James says the case is a timely reminder to business operators of the need to understand and comply with the workplace laws applicable to their workplace.
She says it also highlights that small mistakes, left over time, can result in hefty bills for back payment of wages that employers had not budgeted for.
“We know workplace laws can be complicated for the uninitiated, and for those who are not industrial experts, but we ask small business to use the tools and resources that we provide for them and inform themselves,” James said.
In January, the Fair Work Ombudsman urged retail bakeries in Victoria to pay greater attention to employee pay rates after randomly auditing 81 stores across the state.
Almost half of the businesses were paying incorrect wages and entitlements and more than 200 employees were found to have been underpaid almost $150,000.
A quarter of the underpayments were the result of the bakeries underpaying penalty rates and shift loadings.
Other factors included underpayment of the minimum hourly rate and a failure to pay overtime, casual loadings, allowances and public holiday penalty rates.
Fair Work inspectors also identified instances of employers neglecting to pay employees for some time worked and not providing applicable meal breaks.
They found that only 63 per cent (51) were fully compliant with their record keeping and payslip obligations under federal workplace laws and only 53 per cent (43) were paying their employees correctly.
The Bakers Delight franchisor was one of the key stakeholders consulted on the campaign.
Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. People can also call 13 14 50 if they need interpreter services.