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Workers Being Ripped Off With Zombie Workplace Agreements

Workers being ripped off with zombie workplace agreements

Workers are being ripped off with zombie workplace agreements, according to industrial advocates.

As a result, they are missing out on award wages and conditions.

Zombie workplace agreements

For example, multi-millionaire Justin Hemmes’ pub empire, The Merivale Group, paid its staff according to an outdated workplace agreement.

As a result, the company paid its 3000 staff well below award wages.

The agreement came about in 2007 during the Howard government’s WorkChoices era, without ever updating.

Multi-millionaire Justin Hemmes paid his staff below award wages for years.

How the agreement worked

Under the old agreement, Merivale paid workers:

  • $24.20 an hour for casual work on any day and at any time,
  • and $25.50 an hour on public holidays.

In comparison, workers paid under the current award receive:

  • $27.48 Monday to Friday evenings,
  • $30.33 on Saturdays,
  • $35.39 on Sundays and
  • $50.55 on public holidays.

One Merivale worker received:

  • $6 an hour less than the award for work performed on Saturdays,
  • $10 an hour less on Sundays and
  • $25 an hour less on public holidays.

Are zombie agreements legal?

Despite employers paying below award wages, zombie agreements are legal.

According to the Fair Work Act, agreements from the WorkChoices era can continue to operate after their expiry date until the Fair Work Commission either:

  • approves a replacement,
  • or orders it to be terminated.

In the case of Merivale, the United Voice union applied for termination as a result of complaints from a number of the company’s staff.

Are zombie agreements still in use?

Tens of thousands of workers remain stuck in zombie agreements left over from the WorkChoices era, the ABC reports.

Workers are often unaware they are caught in old agreements and earn less than the modern award.

Miles Heffernan from Fair Work Claims says zombie agreements are common in hospitality, but also exist in retail and fast food.

He advises all workers to check their workplace agreements to ensure they are being paid in accordance with a modern award.

“Zombie agreements are completely unacceptable and should be terminated,” he said.

“It’s 2019, and it’s only fair that workers are paid under agreements that meet the minimum standards of 2019 modern awards.”


Please call Fair Work Claims today on 

1300 324 748

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