Hospo Voice

5 tips for winning back underpaid wages

January 18, 2021

A whopper win: How Josh* won back $20k from a Melbourne burger joint

It’s Monday morning and you’ve just finished an epic week of work. It feels like you haven’t been outside since… last Tuesday, maybe? What will you do on your day off? You look at your bank account and realise you can’t do anything because you’re skint. Again.

You work so hard, but why do you have no money? It’s just life as a hospo worker, right?

Maybe… but also have you looked at exactly what you’re being paid, like really looked? Maybe you’re one of the thousands of hospo workers who are being underpaid their wages?

People like Josh, who suspected things weren’t right and ended up winning back over $20k in stolen wages 😳😳😳

Here’s what he did to win back his underpaid wages. 

1. Check your pay

The first step is a pretty simple one. Find a recent payslip and see if you’re being paid under the award or under an agreement. Then download our Mobilise app and use the PayChecker tool to check it’s all legit. PayChecker will tell you if you’re permanent or casual and what award you should be on, and the correct rates for the job you do.

That’s exactly what Josh did. He was being paid a flat rate, but when he checked the app, it was clear he was being ripped off. 

Alrighty…. So what’s next?

2. Crunch the numbers

Next Josh looked on PayChecker what he was being paid for his shifts then compared it to what he should have been paid under the award. 

You need to look at all the different rates across the week to determine the right payment for each shift. Legally, you can make a claim for up to the last six years of underpaid wages, so even if it’s a previous employer, it’s worth checking. Wage rates for previous years can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman website (see the “Versions” tab for your Award – new pay rates are updated around 20 June in most years).

3. Get some help

Does this all seem a bit confusing? That’s what Josh thought too, so he got in touch with us through the Mobilise app. 

He chatted with our Mobilise expert Brett Callander. 

“Josh’s boss made out they have an agreement, and they can do what they want… I found out there was no enterprise agreement, and he was definitely being covered under the award,” Brett said.  

The app also has a heap of fact sheets that explain your rights and tips on how to enforce them. 

4. Show me the money

Once you’ve worked out you’re underpaid wages, the next step is to get them back. 

“Once Josh had the figures to take to his boss, he could then say: ‘This is what I’ve been underpaid and this is why I believe that.’”

He put the calculations and his underpayment estimate in a letter of demand using our template letter. This letter is all written up, so all he needed to do was plug in his own details. Then he sent off the letter to his boss and waited for a response. 

According to Brett: “At first they said that’s incorrect, but once they did their own investigation, they couldn’t come back with any evidence to say he was wrong.”

They sent Josh a deed of settlement, which Brett checked over, then Josh received a cool $20k+ of unpaid wages in his bank account. Ka-ching!

5. Don’t take no for an answer

Admittedly, not all bosses respond that way. You need to be ready if they ignore you or refuse to pay up. Think about what your next steps are: how can you show them you will not let this go, and it is going to be cheaper and easier if they just pay up now? 

There are three ways to step up pressure:

  1. Review the venue anonymously on Fair Plate. A hospo venue’s reputation is their biggest asset and their greatest vulnerability. Bosses, workers patrons are constantly looking at Fair Plate, so make sure you speak out and tell your colleagues to do it too, so everyone knows the truth about this venue.  
  2. Report the venue to Fair Work Ombudsman and get their help to recover your stolen wages. 
  3. Talk with other Hospo Voice members and plan out how you can put more pressure on the venue with campaign action like a protest, leafleting or social media.

Think you’re being underpaid? Join Hospo Voice (the first month under a Standard membership is FREE). Once you’re a member, download the Mobilise App then get started on winning back ALL your stolen wages.

*Not his real name

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