Kalgoorlie inspectors recover $600,000 for workers in 2008

By: Chris Smith

Kalgoorlie-based inspectors from the Federal Workplace Ombudsman recovered $600,000 in back-pay for 350 workers in 2008, including a retiring bus

Kalgoorlie-based inspectors from the Federal Workplace Ombudsman recovered $600,000 in back-pay for 350 workers in 2008, including a retiring bus driver.

The Workplace Ombudsman’s Kalgoorlie office has now recovered $850,000 for almost 600 underpaid workers office since it opened in October 2006.

The office covers about 40 percent of WA, including Esperance, the Goldfields, and part of the Wheatbelt.

A large amount of the money recovered by the Kalgoorlie office has been for workers in the Goldfields. In 2008, inspectors recovered almost $300,000 for more than 200 Goldfields workers from about 100 businesses.

Workplace inspectors discovered the underpayments through a combination of routine audits and investigations of worker complaints.

The details of the recoveries were announced by Workplace Ombudsman State Director Leigh Quealy during a visit to Kalgoorlie today.

Mr Quealy is in Kalgoorlie with Workplace Ombudsman South West General Manager Steve Ronson for a series of meetings with local employer groups, local government representatives and other key stakeholders.

Cases in which Kalgoorlie inspectors recovered underpayments for workers last year included:
• $10,000 for five Goldfields tradesmen on 457 visas who were not paid the correct overtime and penalty rates,
• $6000 in long-service leave entitlements for a bus driver nearing retirement age,
• $30,000 in annual leave entitlements for a Leonora mine worker, and
• $4600 for a Goldfields chef on a 457 visa who had been paid below the minimum salary level.

"The effort of Kalgoorlie inspectors to recover these significant amounts illustrates their strong commitment to ensuring workers are treated fairly and receive their full entitlements," Quealy says.

He says the underpayments occurred in a range of industries, with large recoveries for workers of hospitality businesses and various mining contractors.

Areas of common non-compliance in the Goldfields included failure to pay the correct amount of annual leave entitlements and pay in lieu of termination.

Quealy says Goldfields inspectors have been pro-actively approaching employers to ensure they are aware of their obligations to their workers.

Employers who are uncertain about whether they are doing the right thing should contact the Workplace Authority Info Line on 1300 363 264.

Workers concerned they are not receiving their full entitlements should contact the WO Help Line on 1300 724 200.

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