Over the years, there have been accounts in Australia of companies, especially rogue franchises, withholding pay from employees, refusing to provide employee benefits required under employment law or forcing an employee to pay back some of the payment or face termination.
Some people will work for less than minimum wage in Australia because they don’t believe they have another option. However, this is illegal in Australia. Some operators have reportedly been told by HQ to do things through the books (i.e., a franchise that requires accurate and complete record keeping) but underpay or force employees to pay back a portion of their payment in cash.
Why would a company ignore employee benefits?
Cutting a few dollars off the hourly rate can potentially save a franchise or company thousands of dollars. For example, let’s say there is a 24/7 convenience store around the corner from your house. The minimum wage is $17.70, but let’s just say (for argument’s sake) that the 24/7 convenience store in question is deducting $5 per hour off the minimum wage. Incredibly, shaving off $5 for each hour makes a huge difference at the end of a given year. In fact, it would save this hypothetical company $43,800 per annum.
In hard economic times, businesses with low turnover (or just ones with little regard for Australian employment law) can feel the sting of paying out wages to their employees.
What can I do about it?
You should never be paid less than minimum wage or denied your employee benefits (such as annual leave or sick leave). If you have evidence that you have being underpaid, your employer is legally obligated to provide back pay. If your employer refuses, legal action may be pursued.
If your employer has mistreated you in the workplace, such as refusing to provide you with the employee benefits you are entitled to, then speak with an employment lawyer today.