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News : Wollongong Call Centre Employee Underpaid: Fair Work
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, July 26, 2016 -- A Wollongong-based telecommunications company faces a series of audits after a Fair Work investigation found it underpaid a worker by more than $3000.
Illawarra Communications Pty Ltd underpaid the call centre worker’s casual loadings, overtime rates and penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and night work over a seven-month period last year.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) said the underpayment was largely the result of the company mistakenly applying rates from an expired state award over several years and "failed to increase wages over this period of time".
The underpayment was discovered after the FWO received a request for assistance from the affected employee in August last year.
Seven other long-serving employees also sought assistance at the same time.
"This raised concerns that the entitlements of other Illawarra Communications call centre employees may also have been underpaid," the FWO said in a statement.
Illawarra Communications were ordered to produce time and wage records, which were handed to the FWO in October.
The FWO said the company had co-operated with the investigation and agreed to back-pay the initial complainant $3098.
The company, which currently has about 20 call centre employees, has also entered into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with the FWO, which is aimed at "encouraging behavioural change".
"Under the EU, Illawarra Communications has agreed to commission an external professional audit of its payment of current and former call centre employees dating back to January 2015 and to rectify any underpayments identified," the FWO said.
"It will also commission audits of its pay practices in 2017 and 2018 and rectify any issues."
In addition, the company will arrange specialist workplace relations training for managers and apologise to the underpaid worker.
Also known as IllComm, the privately-owned company provides mobile and fixed communication systems from its Auburn Street, Wollongong, headquarters.
Its subsidiary company, Datacall Communications, is a "personalised messaging bureau" that operates 24 hours, 7 days.
According to the IllComm website, employees’ duties include answering telephone calls on behalf of clients, transferring calls through to relevant on-call staff, order taking on behalf of clients, answering emergency service calls and taking bookings for tour operators and doctor surgeries.
The EU, seen by the Mercury, states Illawarra Communications contravened five clauses in the modern Contract Call Centres Award, including failing to pay overtime, for time worked on a public holiday, weekend penalty rates and a casual loading.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the underpayment "illustrates the importance of employers ensuring they take the time to check which award covers each of their employees and the penalty rates that apply".
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Thursday, July 28, 2016