A summary of the minimum wage rates and entitlements for casual and permanent Cafe and Restaurant workers in Australia.
Permanent employees are entitled to
Casual employees are paid more because they do not get such entitlements.
Your employer must not financially penalise you for mistakes that you make during the normal course of your work. For example:
The Food and Beverage Attendant duties are listed below since that is the most common role. There are duties listed for Kitchen Staff, Clerical staff, Storemen and women, Security personnel, and Maintenance staff, with each of their levels..
The Fair Work Ombudsman (https://fairwork.gov.au) has the power to "inquire into, and investigate, breaches of the Fair Work Act and take appropriate enforcement action". They have the power to force your employer to pay you the difference between what you are getting paid, and what you should be getting paid. You should talk to them. But first...
Before assisting you, the ombudsman will ask you to, at least, try helping yourself in the following manner:
I know, this can be tough for many people. But, when confronted by the Ombudsman, your employer will deny any knowledge that there was any problem with your pay, and lament "If only you had talked to them this problem would never have happened. The whole thing is nothing more than an innocent mistake."
To be fair, sometimes, it is indeed just a mistake. Employers deserve the opportunity to fix your pay, before getting another party involved. Before you talk to them, read this pamphlet "Having Difficult Conversations".
If you are uncomfortable talking to them, that is ok, just move to the next step, and put it in writing.
Often, the conversation with your boss does not resolve the problem. It can turn out that your boss knows that you are not being paid according to your legal entitlement. Often your boss gives you a choice of continuing to work at your current (illegal) rate, or terminating your employment. That is fine, relax and carry on.
Your next step is to put it in writing.
Write a letter from you, to your boss, informing them that you believe you are not receiving the minimum wage, and that you ask them to pay you according to your legal entitlements under the Restaurant Industry Award (MA000119). Deliver it to your boss, and keep a copy for yourself.
Do not expect great things from this letter. It may prompt the boss to action, it may not. That is ok, because action from your boss is not the purpose of it. The purpose of this letter is to demonstrate to the Ombudsman that your boss knows that there is a problem. With this letter you make it much easier for the Ombudsman to help you.
If delivery of the letter results in the termination of your employment, you have documented grounds for an unfair dismissal. Unfair dismissal is a much more serious and difficult matter for an employer than a pay discrepancy. It will get more attention, and help, from the Ombudsman. But try not to go there. It is also more difficult for you. Stay cool. Keep working.
I hope to provide an example letter here soon.
Wait a couple of weeks for the letter be considered by your employer. Give them a chance to fix the problem. Perhaps you will get backpay, your next pay will be corrected, and your boss will apologize for the mistake. But, if anything less happens, including any compromise to pay you a little more, but still less than the minimum, you can reject it because you are now ready...
Call the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94. They are open 8am - 5.30pm Monday to Friday.
You will listen to a bunch of recordings. Stay strong and pass through them eventually you will get a pleasant and sympathetic human. Last I tried the only response required to get there was to "Press 1 for Employee" about 4 minutes into the call.
Be prepared for the call by having a quiet place, at least 30 minutes to spare, and every scrap of paper you have related to your employment; particularly the letter above and any payslips, if you have any.
The result of the call will be a Case Reference Identifier. They will tell you what to do next. Typically that will be to fill out a lot of forms and mail them. But once that is done, they will handle everything for you. Basically, you just wait. When everything goes to plan, you will be contacted by your employer to pay you the difference between what you were paid and what you are entitled to. It may take a couple of months to complete the whole process.
Not everyone feels comfortable with the above course of action. I understand. Confrontation is frightening to many of us. The "official" route, above, is too hard for many people. So what do you do?
You can still keep your job and get paid correctly.
The alternative path is to wait until you are not working at that place anymore, then ask the Fair Work Ombudsman to retrieve your full entitlement. This path avoids raising the issue with your boss, but demands that you write down, and keep, everything documented all along the way.
Customers can help:
Please contact me with your questions or story.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call John on 0403 998 333
I am John. I am a software engineer who has worked in minimum wage jobs during odd periods of my life. I am disappointed by widespread lack of compliance with the law/these rates; the pros and cons of having a minimum wage has been extensively discussed in Federal Parliament and the minimum wage was set in law. If you have a problem with these rates, political agitation, not disregard, is the legal and appropriate response.
This website is my meagre attempt to make it quick, simple, and unintimidating for workers, and employers, to determine exactly what the law is. I am extremely happy to help anyone, of any age, position, or ability, to understand all aspects and receive simple non-organisational, pragmatic, practical, unbiased information or advice regarding the minimum wage in Australian restaurants and cafes. Give me a call, or email.