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FWO recoups $100k in back-pay for Sydney cleaners and hospitality staff

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James

Cleaners and hospitality workers in Sydney’s south and south-west have been back-paid more than $100,000 following recent intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), stated a 1 April FWO press release.

‘Two cleaners at a Kentlyn business were reimbursed $60,000 after they were made redundant and their employer initially failed to pay them anything at all.

‘The workers should have received outstanding annual leave entitlements, accrued long service leave and redundancy pay. After being contacted by Fair Work inspectors, the employer promptly rectified the issue, blaming cash-flow problems.

‘Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says employers must ensure that when an employment relationship ends they pay-out their employees’ full termination entitlements,’ reported the FWO.

“Paying workers correctly on termination of employment is just as important as ensuring workers are paid their full entitlements throughout their employment,” James said. “Termination entitlements play a vital supporting role for workers while they attempt to find alternative employment.”

James revealed that the underpaid employees were reimbursed all money owed after Fair Work inspectors contacted the employers and explained their workplace obligations.

‘Dozens of housekeepers that clean rooms at Sydney’s Four Points by Sheraton hotel on Darling Harbour are having their pay packets reviewed after recent inquiries by the Fair Work Ombudsman found they were being underpaid.

‘The housekeepers are mostly young Asian workers in Australia as international students or backpackers on the 417 working holiday visa. Four Points by Sheraton does not directly employ the cleaner; they work for a sub-contractor, Strathfield-based ATM Cleaning Management Pty Ltd.

‘ATM has signed an Enforceable Undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman and agreed to review the pay packets of all employees dating back to June last year, and then pro-actively back-pay all outstanding wages and entitlements that may be owing,’ revealed the FWO release.

The company has also agreed to make a $2000 donation to the Cleaning Accountability Framework, a group of key stakeholders working with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure compliance and best practice in the cleaning sector.

James said the overwhelming majority of employers want to do the right thing by their employees and get it right when it comes to workplace laws.“We find that most mistakes are due to a lack of awareness of workplace laws, rather than employers deliberately doing the wrong thing,” she said.

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