News briefs, 26/11/12


News briefs, 26/11/12

$75k back-pay for workers in western Sydney | Pay rates for Queensland community services | Senate inquiry into ABC’s regional footprint.


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$75k back-pay for workers in western Sydney | Pay rates for Queensland community services | Senate inquiry into ABC’s regional footprint.

$75k back-pay for workers in western Sydney
A number of employees in Sydney’s west have been back paid a total of $75,600, following recent intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The largest recovery was $20,000 for an engineer in Penrith who was underpaid wages in lieu of notice, annual leave and expense entitlements upon termination of employment.

After a Fair Work inspector contacted the business and explained its obligations, the employee was reimbursed all money owed without the need for further action.

Other recent recoveries include:
  • $17,200 for a Seven Hills manager underpaid redundancy entitlements upon termination of employment
  • $8500 for six fitness instructors at Blacktown underpaid wages in 2010
  • $6500 for a Llandilo security worker underpaid wages in lieu of notice of termination of employment
  • $6200 for a worker at Fairfield underpaid wages
  • $6000 for a hospitality worker near Penrith underpaid wages
  • $5800 for a Bella Vista tradesperson underpaid personal leave entitlements and allowances
  • $5400 for a Shalvey worker underpaid wages in 2012.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says when Fair Work inspectors identify a problem and contact a business, most employers check their records, realise a problem has occurred, and fix it immediately.

‘When we find mistakes, we’re here to assist and give practical advice to employers on how to voluntarily resolve issues,’ Wilson says.

‘The businesses involved have now corrected the errors that led to the underpayments and put processes in place to ensure they will not happen again.’

Pay rates for Queensland community services 
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten and the Minister for Community Services Julie Collins have announced ‘the Government has provided certainty for Queensland [Social and Community Service] (SACS) employees and employers who will not immediately receive the benefit of the historic Fair Work Australia (FWA) equal pay ruling, including those working with people with disability, counselling families in crisis, running homeless shelters and working with victims of domestic violence or sexual assault’.

The FWA equal remuneration case earlier this year granted 150,000 SACS workers, including 120,000 women, whose terms and conditions of employment are covered by the SACS modern award, pay rises of between 23 and 45 per cent, phased in over eight years, commencing on 1 December 2012. In addition, workers will receive the benefit of minimum wage increases awarded by FWA as part of annual minimum wage reviews.

However, the FWA ruling did not provide for immediate pay increases for employees whose minimum terms and conditions are set by what is known as a transitional pay equity order (TPEO).

The terms and conditions of TPEOs have remained unchanged since the creation of the national workplace relations system on 1 January 2010. TPEOs were created at this time to reflect the higher rates of pay provided to workers in Queensland as a result of the pay equity decision in that state in 2009. This means that workers covered by a TPEO are currently not entitled to minimum wage increases because FWA does not have the power to adjust the TPEO rates.

Under the regulation, workers whose minimum terms and conditions are set through a TPEO will be entitled to pay increases from 1 December 2012. The pay increases reflect Queensland’s minimum wage increases awarded in 2010, 2011 and 2012. These workers will also be entitled to future Fair Work Australia annual wage adjustments from 1 July 2013 until 2020, which is the end of the eight-year phase in period for wage increases paid under the FWA equal pay ruling.

Senate inquiry into ABC’s regional footprint
The Community and Public Sector Union, the union representing ABC staff, welcomed the announcement that the Senate is to move a motion to launch an inquiry into the ABC’s role in regional Australia.

The ABC’s announcement earlier this week that it intends to close down TV production in Tasmania, with a loss of 16 jobs, has met with a fierce backlash nationwide and raised concerns about the Corporation’s commitment to reflect the regional diversity of Australia, according to the union.
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