Employer Underpaid - Do I have a Leg to Stand On?

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A friend of mine was being paid well under award and minimum wage for months thinking that each pay was going to increase. He was also only being paid for a 38 hour week when some weeks he would work up to 50 hours. In his time being there, the employer paid for him to get his HR licence on a verbal agreement that he would pay he employer back. Since that time my friend has sought other employment as he was sick of being underpaid and putting him into more debt. In which he never received his final weeks pay from them. Now 2 months after finishing with the old employer, the old employer has started chasing him for the money from the HR licence. Should he report him to Fair Work Australia or the ombudsman for being underpaid? And as for the licence he is unable to pay the large fee. What should he do there?


Well-Known Member
19 April 2014
Hi ALH1993,

That's nice of you to try to help your friend out.
Has he already tried to recover the amount underpaid from his former employer?
I think he should go through the Fair Work Ombudsman processes for:
  1. If you think you're being underpaid, and then if necessary,
  2. Make a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Perhaps his former employer will be willing to let your friend off the licence money when they realise that they underpaid your friend and owe your friend money and, as such, may be subject to investigation and potential enforcement action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

I hope this information helps.

Tim W

LawConnect (LawTap) Verified
28 April 2014
There are two distinct questions to be dealt with.
Your friend should try and deal with them separately.

The first is the question of being underpaid - contacting FWO may be the most practical thing for that.

The second question is the debt to the (former) employer
for the costs of the HR licence.
What happens with that may depend on which of the following applies:
  1. Whether or not paying for the licence was something the employer did
    for the employer's own convenience or business needs, or simple good will, or
  2. Whether or not it was a simple loan from the business to the employee, or
  3. Whether or not it was advance on salary/wages, or
  4. Whether or not it was provided as a fringe benefit.
Note that what the employer thinks, and what your friend thinks, might be different.

Also, your friend should check that tax was correctly deducted
and superannuation was being paid by the employer.

Lastly, I would encourage your friend to consider joining the relevant union for his industry.