Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Check that you are paying your employees correctly

Mark Fletcher
June 23rd, 2018 · 23 Comments

The stories in the media this week about underpayment of employees in cafes and other retail businesses is a reminder of the need to ensure you are paying your team members according to the law.

  1. Ensure you have proper record keeping for hours and wages.
  2. Provide a written pay slip with every pay.
  3. Pay on the record and not cash in hand.
  4. Ensure you pay the correct overtime rate.
  5. Ensure your superannuation payments are up to date.
  6. Ensure your workcover (or similar) is up to date.
  7. Ensure you have accurate records for leave.

No, family members should not be treated different to any other employee.

Employees can easily lodge a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman. They investigate every claim. Even the smallest oversight can have cost and reputational consequences for a business. Ignorance is no excuse.

I regularly hear from current and former newsagency employees with stories of claimed under payment. In each case I refer them to the Fair Work Ombudsman. When I have the opportunity I make it clear that I don’t want to know the business name as I am not the regulator. The thing is, however, people come to me after months of getting nowhere with their current or former employer, they come to me out of frustration and, often, anger.

I don’t want our channel to be the subject of the types of stories we are hearing right now about cafes where underpayment and other crimes are getting considerable media attention. We avoid this by obeying the law and encouraging our colleagues to do the same.

The most challenging story put to me is of a close relative of an owner, an adult male, being paid $15 cash in hand for 40+ hours a week that includes 8 hours every Sunday. This have gone on for three years. My rough calculation suggests that there is at least $50,0009 owed plus superannuation plus likely penalties. I am told this would kill the business. As I see it, the person who contacted me has to go to Fair Work for themselves and the likely other employees being treated similarly while the owner lives a more luxurious life. I suspect the owner has the money to fulfil their obligations.


Category: Management tip · Newsagency management

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Factory Worker // Jun 23, 2018 at 12:52 PM

    If a woman was being beaten by her partner wouldn’t you have a moral obligation to intervene and inform the authorities even if the victim didn’t?

    You have a moral obligation to involve yourself and report this case.


  • 2 Jason // Jun 23, 2018 at 1:34 PM

    “I don’t want our channel to be the subject of the types of stories we are hearing right now about cafes where underpayment and other crimes are getting considerable media attention… speaking of which here’s a story about exactly that topic!”

    You clearly think you know enough about the situation to declare the employer has the cash available to backpay wages but won’t do so. Why not do something productive to solve the problem instead?


  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Jun 23, 2018 at 1:54 PM

    Factroll the advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman is to ask those directly affected to report. I followed their advice.

    Jason you have made assumptions. I have no capacity to solve the issue. Only the FWO does.


  • 4 Factory Worker // Jun 23, 2018 at 2:13 PM

    You claim to have intimate knowledge yet you do nothing.

    The Fairwork Ombudsman is not the only avenue to have this problem addressed.

    You talk about the power and the reach of Facebook and Social Media all the time on this blog.

    There is already a hashtag #wagetheft.

    Expose these thieves!


  • 5 Mark Fletcher // Jun 23, 2018 at 2:17 PM

    Factroll I have not claimed intimate knowledge. That is your term. I have done exactly what the FWO asked me to do.


  • 6 Peter // Jun 23, 2018 at 2:26 PM

    I have people complain about employment conditions with other jobs etc, Mark’s advice to people concerned to contact FWO is spot on.


  • 7 Factory Worker // Jun 23, 2018 at 5:39 PM

    – adult male, close relative of an owner
    – paid $15 cash in hand
    – works 40+ hours a week including 8 hours every Sunday
    – been going on for three years.
    – Estimate underpayment of approx. $50k
    – Owed superannuation and possibly penalties.
    – Knowledge of the owners financial status.

    That all sounds like intimate knowledge to me.

    According to you fifty thousand dollars has been stolen. You have a moral obligation to act.

    Your comment that the victim of wagetheft has to contact the ombudsman themselves is contrary to their website that states:
    Concerned someone isn’t complying with workplace laws but don’t want to get involved directly? You can report the issue to us anonymously in English or another language.


  • 8 Graeme Day // Jun 23, 2018 at 7:27 PM

    F.W. Third party complaints is thy Brothers Keeper.
    mrak made apoint. The people involved are the only one’s that really know the facts. They have the avenues available to look out for themselves.
    Mark probably is saying if you’re a party to this sort of behaviour -then don’t be. Anyway that’s my interpretation What I don’t get is that you seem and some others here, just want to hone in on open commentary as it’s Mark’s problem when really it isn’t.
    It comes across as reactionary and very subjective commentary instead of an objective based one.based.
    It’s a shame for otherwise your commentary would add another dimension to the subject.


  • 9 Factory Worker // Jun 23, 2018 at 8:39 PM

    Graeme, Mark is an experienced businessman, an industry leader and a vocal exponent on injustice and social issues.

    The victim of the wagetheft, in this story, a lowly shop assistant hasn’t done anything in three years. There is an obvious power imbalance.

    And Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field,” and when they were in the field Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him. And the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother? And he said, “I do not know: am I my brother’s keeper?”


  • 10 Graeme Day // Jun 23, 2018 at 9:07 PM

    F.W. The anwer you have given has no relevelance
    Using the biblical anedote is not factual Cain slea Abel and therefore committed a crime.
    The connentation of ‘My Brothers Keeper” has been
    uesd by you out of context.
    You are starting to show yourself as being a self rightous preacher. mark has not committed any crime in fact what he has done is the reverse he has alerted other people to conduct that isn’t acceptable.
    Put the Bible away mate this commonsens not moral lecturing


  • 11 Factory Worker // Jun 23, 2018 at 9:31 PM

    How about this for moral lecturing….

    I am not going to debate someone who has obviously been drinking. If you want to seriously address anything I have written (and I welcome the scrutiny) do it when you have a clear head.


  • 12 Graeme Day // Jun 23, 2018 at 9:46 PM

    Drinking isn’t my problem however thinking may be yours . I am only appealing for rational debate.m


  • 13 Mark Fletcher // Jun 24, 2018 at 10:05 AM

    Factroll this is not about me or my position. The post is a call to newsagents and other business owners who visit this place to encourage them to check that they are fulfilling their pay obligations.

    My advice to the person I reference is the post and others who contact me that they need to contact the FWO is as requested by the FWO.

    It appears you want me to out the employer. It is not my place to do that.


  • 14 Factory Worker // Jun 24, 2018 at 10:28 AM

    “It appears you want me to out the employer.”
    Yes I do.

    “It is not my place to do that.”
    I believe it is.

    You can even do it anonymously.

    Kitty Genovese


  • 15 Mark Fletcher // Jun 24, 2018 at 10:37 AM

    Factroll you can do what you want, as can I.

    Someone who contacted me a couple of years ago with a similar situation did report to the FWO as I suggested. They let me know a few months later that their matter was resolved wit back pay paid along with super. The process works.


  • 16 Factory Worker // Jun 24, 2018 at 10:49 AM

    Ok fair enough. We will leave it there.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


  • 17 Mark Fletcher // Jun 24, 2018 at 10:51 AM

    Factroll, you accuse me of something I have not done. I have done plenty for individuals by providing the advice the FWO wants provided and by raising the issue here, several times including this post. I do all this with my real name and my contact details.


  • 18 Graeme Day // Jun 24, 2018 at 12:14 PM

    To put you straight FW I believe that there are two people involved -There is a law and a structure to go to for help.
    There may be a reason such as a power hold as you suggest and that power hold could be that the reciprient is not a legal immigrant for example.

    It ma be a number of reasons all of them known to each other, the parties involved.
    I believe that it up to the two involved for being a “snitcher” conjours up all thought of character anomalies.
    For example Accountants come accross many of their clients that pay people cash and/or take cash out from their business.
    Do you think they should contact the ATO re this and dob them in?


  • 19 colin // Jun 25, 2018 at 5:38 PM


    It might be a big ask to expect accountants to contact the ATO. But perhaps it should be a crime for them to sign off accounts where they are aware the law has been broken.

    There are too many examples of those prepared to condone illegal activity on the don’t dob in principle … be they tax advisors, lawyers, media executives and of course Catholic priests. The penalty for turning a blind eye should be serious.


  • 20 Graeme Day // Jun 25, 2018 at 6:20 PM

    I totally agree.
    the Accountant should just refuse to adjust the books. I have met many that do and they are good at their job as well.
    i was making a point on be responsible rather than dobbing.


  • 21 Mark Fletcher // Jun 25, 2018 at 7:08 PM

    The standards of the accountant professional bodies speak to this.


  • 22 Ken Wilson // Jun 25, 2018 at 9:02 PM

    Accountants are paid by their clients, they ain’t dobbing nobody in and they’re not investigating nothing… this is all La La speak!


  • 23 Martin // Jun 26, 2018 at 8:22 PM

    Mark – true story


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reload Image