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Our Tips to Help Avoid a Woolworths Situation

No doubt you have heard the media reports over the last few days with Woolworths receiving immense backlash following the short paying of its employees of up to 300 million dollars.

Getting it right can be tricky, particularly for small players. Regardless of the industry you are in, here are some tips for employees subject to awards or enterprise agreements:

  • Ensure you have the correct award or enterprise agreement.
  • Ensure you have correct classifications for your employees.  There are many differences in duties which may lead to significant remuneration changes.
  • Make sure you AND your employees are aware of position descriptions and classifications.
  • If you are paying employees a fixed rate to incorporate penalties and allowances, make sure you have done your sums correctly and they are paid no less than they would be entitled to if paid at the award rate.
  • Monitor the hours your employees actually work to ensure they are remunerated properly, including salaried workers. Don’t rely on the notion that they are donating their time to your business, they are lawfully entitled to expect to be paid for it.
  • If you wish to change anything in an award to make the employee “better off” you should still seek legal advice as to the legality of proposed changes.
  • Stay up to date with the Annual Wage Reviews and Pay Guides.

Even following these tips shall not be fail-safe.  You must ensure as an employer that there is an ongoing review of remuneration, and keep up with changes to all entitlements (not just changes in rates of pay).

As work law professionals, we want to ensure something as serious as this does not happen to you or your business. Please always seek legal advice from a professional you can trust before the situation spins out of control.

For more information, contact Elspeth Ledwy, wIRklaw team leader and Senior Associate, Kelly Legal.

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