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Workplace Rights in Australia

AnteCantelopeAnteCantelope Registered User regular
edited January 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I've been working for two years at a generally good place in Australia. The work has a lot of positives and negatives, but the positives have slowly been shrinking, so I'm looking at getting a new job. The thing is, a lot of the negatives are illegal, like being required to work unpaid overtime (around 20mins every shift). It used to only be about two minutes, but there was a change of procedure over a year ago, and when I complained about it then, I was told the alternative was to be fired. Also, as I often work 6 hour shifts, this often means that I'm required to work for more than 6 hours without a break (which is illegal). Now, I haven't kept a record of all this, I have no actual proof, and I was wondering a couple of things:
What would I have to do to have proof? Video footage of me working after hours? Ask my boss to sign a document saying that he's been breaking the law for the last year and a half (because I'm sure this would go over well)?
Who would I go to about this? I was having a look at the workplace ombudsman, but it seems to focus more on 'guaranteed minimums' than anything else.
My pay on sunday is not time-and-a-half, and I was wondering if this was a law, or a norm. It's time-and-a-a-half of award wage, and my normal wage is a couple of dollars higher than that. Again, when I commented on this, I was told to accept it, or get fired.
I don't want to sound greedy, but what's in it for me if I do take this to the ombudsman? I figure I'm owed over $1500 in unpaid overtime, would I have a chance of seeing any of that? Would my employer just get a reprimand? I figure that going to the ombudsman (or whoever) is going to get me fired, so I don't want to do it unless I have another job in line, or it will get me some remuneration.
I know that sounds a bit mercenery, but in my defense, I've been paid less than I need for rent alone for the last 3 months, and now I've been told they're cutting down on casual hours. So fuck them, I'm broke.

Thanks.

AnteCantelope on

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    mooshoeporkmooshoepork Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Uh...I don't know how to help, but all I can say is I share your pain. I'm in AUS too, and I'm getting bent over a barrel at the moment too...I'll be keeping an eye on this thread :(

    mooshoepork on
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    AnteCantelopeAnteCantelope Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    One other thing: The workplace ombudsman's site says "Employers must issue a written pay slip, containing the above information, to each worker within one day of the payment of wages." Also "Employers must ensure that a pay slip is issued to a worker even when he or she is on leave." Does this mean that if, say, I get paid on monday, and don't work that week until friday, and I don't get my pay slip until I go to work, that they've breached the law? Is it enough to print out a payslip that I can get, if I happen to be at work, or do they actually have to seek me out and give it to me? That sounds... unlikely, but it's the way I understand those sentences.

    AnteCantelope on
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    KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I think you should find out if there are any local free legal advice clinics, then if so, get a consultation. Having worked at these places a large part of the everyday work will be dealing with employment issues.

    Or, find out which government department is responsible for Employment/Labour/Industrial Relations in your state/country- check out their website and see if they have employee advice lines - these surely would exist in Australia (especially in a downturn)- they should be able to advice you of specific legal requirements regarding hours of work/breaks etc.

    Kalkino on
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    burntheladleburntheladle Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I'm fairly sure the time and a half thing on sundays isn't law anymore, it's just the norm. I know for sure that at places at mcdonalds penalty rates were bargained away by the union, in exchange for higher everyday rates.

    Do you have a union? A union rep would be a good person to talk to, and you absolutely cannot be fired for seeking advice from the union. (legally speaking; that may act as a catalyst for your employer to start looking for a reason to fire you, depending on how douchy they are).

    burntheladle on
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    AnteCantelopeAnteCantelope Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I'm fairly sure the time and a half thing on sundays isn't law anymore, it's just the norm. I know for sure that at places at mcdonalds penalty rates were bargained away by the union, in exchange for higher everyday rates.

    Do you have a union? A union rep would be a good person to talk to, and you absolutely cannot be fired for seeking advice from the union. (legally speaking; that may act as a catalyst for your employer to start looking for a reason to fire you, depending on how douchy they are).

    I don't think so, because I work in retail, in a small business. I've never heard of any union or anything.

    And they're not necessarily douchey, but there are already too many employees, I'm sure it'd make life easier for them if one or two of the casuals made a fuss.

    AnteCantelope on
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    bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    man, don't faff around, send an email to the ombudsman. say exactly what you have here, if you like. they aren't going to sell you out to your employer, and the worst thing that can happen is they won't be able to directly help and will forward you on elsewhere

    you need to act on this. most workplaces in australia are good. i get paid well, i get lots of breaks and i'm entitled to my time-in-lieu and overtime pay. but if people keep swallowing the bad without kicking up a right stink, shitty practices will gradually creep back in and more and more of us will be stuck feeling like we're helplessly being rorted

    bsjezz on
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    ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    There are a lot of places in Aus still shirking the rules and sticking to whatever minimums of quality were laid out by fucking Workchoices. Get a letter in to the Ombudsman straight away and get looking for a new job.

    ruzkin on
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    ihmmyihmmy Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    ihmmy on
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    AnteCantelopeAnteCantelope Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    ihmmy wrote: »

    Yuck, I can't stand that left-wing bullshit, which is partly why I've been so reserved about making any complaints to begin with.

    I found a way to gain free advice on the ombudsman's site, so hopefully that will be sufficient. I'll give them a try when they reopen on monday.

    AnteCantelope on
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    noobertnoobert Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    ruzkin wrote: »
    There are a lot of places in Aus still shirking the rules and sticking to whatever minimums of quality were laid out by fucking Workchoices.

    Pretty much.

    You said you where casual, I'd be looking for a better job ASAP.

    noobert on
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    CryogenCryogen Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    It happens, unfortunately. Especially in low-skilled, high-turnover jobs like retail. Theres a lot of companies taking their employees for a ride.

    Sunday time and a half is not law in all states for retail employees. Its been a little while since i've done payroll (used to work for a national retailer) but there were only a couple of states we paid sunday time and a half to. Penalty rates for overtime is much the same - often theres no such thing, you just keep getting your hourly rate.

    Not getting breaks, and forced unofficial overtime, however, is technically illegal. I say technically, because proving it is a pain in the ass. Also, as a casual, even if you contest it and win, all that will happen is you'll suddenly discover you arent on the roster any more. As a casual, completely legal.

    It is simply not worth your time fighting this. Start looking for a new job. Not all companies screw their employees.

    Cryogen on
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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    ihmmy wrote: »

    Yuck, I can't stand that left-wing bullshit, which is partly why I've been so reserved about making any complaints to begin with.

    I found a way to gain free advice on the ombudsman's site, so hopefully that will be sufficient. I'll give them a try when they reopen on monday.

    as general help/advice, worker's rights, like overtime pay, is the quintessential left-wing bullshit. if you contact an employees' rights organization for more information, or a labour lawyer, you're going to get more left-wing bullshit, but probably better service than the ombudsman.

    kaliyama on
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    ZsetrekZsetrek Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    ihmmy wrote: »

    Yuck, I can't stand that left-wing bullshit, which is partly why I've been so reserved about making any complaints to begin with.

    :lol:

    Even free marketeers have to resort to dirty unionism occasionally!

    Serious advice:

    1) The Ombudsman is a good suggestion, but they'll generally have a slow turn-around time. It's worthwhile looking for help from other places, too.

    2) http://www.nla.aust.net.au/ should help you get in touch with a local legal-aid clinic. They offer free legal advice - over the phone and in person.

    3) Even though they won't be able to help you directly, the office of your State's Workplace Relations Minister should be able to put you in touch with State-specific resources. You're better off ringing them than emailing, and better off emailing than writing. Getting in touch with the Minister's office directly will let you avoid the bureaucratic run-around. I mention this because a lot of States are specifically doing stuff re. the exploitation of young workers at the moment.

    4) There is a union for retail workers - http://www.sda.org.au/. It's probably worth getting in touch with them. Whilst I've never had to call them myself, my friends who have tell me that they're very helpful.

    Zsetrek on
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    AnteCantelopeAnteCantelope Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Cryogen wrote: »
    Penalty rates for overtime is much the same - often theres no such thing, you just keep getting your hourly rate.

    Sorry if I didn't make this clear, but I'm not getting paid at all for this overtime. I'm paid until we close at, say, 9pm. I finish closing the shop at around 9.15-9.20pm

    And yeah, I've already sent off half a dozen applications, but I'd kind of like this one to work out. It's continually getting worse at the moment, but it was good.

    AnteCantelope on
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