Yet again an employer has used a basic Google search to try and find out how much they were supposed to legally pay their workers – and guess what – they got it wrong.
It’s the second time in recent months that a business owner has claimed they searched for legal workplace information by doing a Google search, and Employer Advisors warns it is a dangerous way for any employer to try and find out correct pay rates, overtime, penalty rates, breaks and other entitlements.
Co-owner of Barry Cafe in Melbourne, Anne Petroulias said she and her brother Steve had never operated a business like that before, and did a basic internet search to find out what they had to pay their staff.
“We had no idea about wage rates or anything. My brother looked on Google, and got the wage rates. I know we did wrong and we want to rectify anything,” she said.
Miles Heffernan from Employer Advisors said it was a stupid thing to do, and warns all employers to find out exactly what they need to be paying employees before opening the doors to a new business.
“You don’t find something as important as legal workplace obligations on the back of a Wheaties packet, and nor do you find them by simply typing them into the Google machine,” he said.
“We have a proper government authority that sets out everything an employer needs to know on a comprehensive and easy to use website – it’s called the Fair Work Ombudsman.”
Please click here to access the Fair Work Ombudsman pay information section.
“The website has more than 40 languages, and sets out for employers information about different awards, pay rates, penalties, overtime and things like leave entitlements,” Mr Heffernan said.
“There is absolutely no excuse for a boss to claim ignorance when it comes to paying staff their proper wages and entitlements.”
It’s not the first time an employer has used Google to find out what he was supposed to pay his workers.
As we previously reported on our Industrial Relations Claims website, the owner of a Western Australian restaurant was fined $37,500 for underpaying 25 workers, claiming he tried to find the correct pay rates by doing a Google search for “minimum wage”.
Apart from that internet search, he made no further effort to find out what his legal obligations were.
Please click here to read more about the case.
“Doing a simple Google search is not good enough,” Mr Heffernan said.
“If you are an employer, it is your responsibility to find out your obligations, and make sure you understand them, and then implement them to the letter of the law.
“Too many workers, particularly hospo workers, are being ripped off because bosses are either too lazy, too stupid, or deliberately decide to engage in wage theft.
“If you are an employer, you are taking a big risk by not paying your staff their proper wages and entitlements – you could end up paying fines, being taken to court, or even publicly shamed like Barry Cafe in Melbourne has this week, and it’s cost them big time.
“The value of our business has really gone to zero. We paid a lot of money to come here a year and a half ago and it’s all borrowed money. We are going to lose our house because of that. We don’t know what to do. It’s really difficult for us,” Barry Cafe co-owner Ms Petroulias said.
Barry Cafe has now promised to repay the workers what they are owed, and has said it will now allow half hour breaks instead of the current unlawful 15 minutes.
It could be too late though, because the Fair Work Ombudsman has now revealed it has launched an investigation into the underpayments at the cafe, which could possibly result in hefty penalties.
Please click here to read more about the latest with Barry Cafe, including a threat by one of the owners to sue any staff who continue to protest over the underpayments.
Please click here to read more about the Barry Cafe protest, and the text messages sent to staff effectively sacking them for complaining about being underpaid.
Please click here to read more about the bizarre contract Barry Cafe tried to make their workers sign.
If your business is facing a claim of underpayments, or you are having trouble understanding your legal workplace obligations, our friendly staff can help. Please call Employer Advisors on 1300 853 837 for expert and confidential advice.
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