Worker at seafood processor paid just $9 an hour

The Fair Work Ombudsman has assisted a former employee of a seafood processing business in Box Hill, Victoria to recover $85,000 in unpaid entitlements.

The worker, who was a general hand assisting in the loading and unloading of stock, was paid just $9 to $11.50 during 16 years of employment at the business.

He worked at the business an average of 22 to 35 hours per week.

The employer told the Fair Work Ombudsman that the employee received a lower rate of pay because they believed the employee had a reduced capacity to carry out tasks and had hired the employee out of compassion.

The employee should have been paid according to the General Retail Industry Award 2010 for the duration of his employment.

Currently, Level 1 retail employees are entitled to receive $730.80 per week, or $19.44 per hour.  The rate increases to $24.30 for evening work and Saturday work, $38.88 for Sunday work and $48.60 for public holiday work.

Representatives from the Fair Work Ombudsman contacted the employer after receiving a request for assistance from the employee and assisted the parties to resolve the matter, without need for enforcement action.

The employer was educated about their obligations under the Fair Work Act.  They co-operated with the Agency and promptly rectified the matter.

The business avoided enforcement action because it co-operated with the Fair Work Ombudsman, agreed that it had breached its obligations and did not have any history of non-compliance before this matter.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the error was inadvertent and was the result of the employer failing to check their obligations under workplace laws.

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

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s website has a range of tools and resources to assist business owners to understand and comply with their obligations, including the Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT).

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