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Fashion outlets to pay up


Shopping centreA number of fashion and accessories retail outlets have been forced to reimburse employees $12,400, after staff were made to cover the cost of uniforms out of their own pocket.

The Fair Work Ombudsman received complaints from young workers last year, in turn launching an investigation into compliance at a total of 35 stores.

It interviewed staff and met with the head office of each retail brand to discuss how company policies are translated to custom and practice in store.

Under the General Retail Industry Award 2010, an employer that requires an employee to wear special clothing must reimburse the cost of the clothing.

Additionally, when an employee is required to launder a special uniform, dress, or other clothing, full time employees will receive an allowance of $6.25 per week, and $1.25 per shift for part time or casual employees.

Inspectors visited Victorian stores at Doncaster, Chadstone, Highpoint, Melbourne Central, and the CBD. In Queensland, it went to Chermside shopping centre; in Tasmania, Hobart CBD; and in rural NSW, Wagga Wagga CBD.

Fair Work inspectors worked collaboratively with employers to help put policies in place, which removed any ambiguity in communications with staff regarding the purchase of clothing or jewellery to wear while at work.

Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, says the preference is always to work with businesses to help them put effective policies and procedures in place to achieve compliance.

“A big part of the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman is to work with businesses to ensure they have the knowledge they need to meet their obligations, and where they wish, to operate at best practice,” James said.

“We are serious about our job of building knowledgeable and fairer workplaces, and don’t insist there is only one way to achieve compliance – education is equally as important as deterrents.”

Further visits to retail stores across the country will assess compliance and ensure company policy reflects  culture on shop floors.




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