High-end clothing company back-pays staff

clothing, mens, fashion, rackDozens of staff at a high-end national clothing company have been back-paid more than $162,100 following an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

After one employee sought assistance for unpaid wages, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation ultimately resulted in back-payments for 36 workers across stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

The employer was paying its casual adult sales assistants a flat rate of $21 an hour, which was not enough to cover their penalty rates.

The business had incorrectly assumed that sales commissions would offset the underpayment of the flat rate for any work attracting penalties.

The employees were underpaid a total of $148,100 in wages and $14,000 in superannuation between June, 2013 and June last year.

Fair Work inspectors spent months investigating the matter, believing one employee’s unsuccessful attempt at resolving issues with the company was not isolated.

The highest amount back-paid to an individual was more than $11,100.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the company has since reviewed the pay and contracts of all its full-time and casual employees.

“Employers must ensure they understand the wage rates applicable to their employees, including penalty rates,” said James.

“When we find errors, our preference is to educate employers about their obligations and assist them to put processes in place to ensure the mistakes are not repeated.”

“Our experience and research tells us businesses are over-confident about workplace laws and many do not seek advice or help until something starts to go awry,”  James said.

Updated: 11am AEST July 29

Responding to Inside Retail’s request to identify the company involved, a Fair Work Ombudsman spokesperson issued the following statement:

“The Fair Work Ombudsman publicly identifies non-compliant employers only in situations where we commence formal enforcement action, such as legal action in Court or entering into an Enforceable Undertaking. The business in this matter fully co-operated with inspectors and promptly repaid the money owed, without the need for enforcement action. As such, the Agency did not, and will not be naming the company involved or providing information further to that contained in the media release which may lead to the company being identified.”

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