Hotel quarantine security staff were underpaid more than $300,000, the Fair Work Ombudsman has revealed.
Inspectors uncovered the wage theft involving security guards at Melbourne and Sydney COVID-19 hotels during a random audit of 37 business.
Hotel quarantine security staff underpaid
Fair Work investigated nine principal contactors engaged by the Victorian and New South Wales governments.
It then examined 28 subcontractors used to provide security guards to quarantine hotels.
As a result, inspectors found 11 had underpaid their workers and five failed to provide pay slips and keep accurate records.
The most common breaches found by inspectors involved failures to pay penalty rates (eight businesses), followed by failures to pay correct annual or personal leave entitlements (four businesses).
In total, the regulator recovered $288,938 for 665 employees in Melbourne and $14,361 for 345 employees in Sydney.
Amounts back-paid from individual businesses ranged from $207,681 for 333 employees to $312 for one employee.
As a result of the audit, Fair Work issued:
- 10 Compliance Notices, which recovered $302,281.
- One contravention letter, which recovered $1,018.
- Five Infringement Notices for breaches of pay slip laws, resulting in $11,166 in fines paid.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Fair Work Claims said the security industry is rife with underpayments.
“We find wage theft is common in industries that use contractors and subcontractors, such as security and cleaning,” he said.
Mr Heffernan said last year’s breaches of hotel quarantine that led to COVID outbreaks in the community were not surprising.
“When you pay peanuts, you can’t complain when you get monkeys,” he said.
“All workers deserve to be paid their proper wages and entitlements, no matter what industry they work in.”
Mr Heffernan said he can assist workers who need help to recover stolen wages.
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