How much time do you have to lodge an unfair dismissal claim?
November 27, 2017

What should you do if you think you are being underpaid?

If you have been underpaid, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Underpayment of wages is something that can can cause much stress to the individuals who are affected.  If you believe that you have been underpaid it is important that you get advice quickly so that the matter can get resolved without delay. In most cases these issues can be resolved through advocacy and negotiation. In some cases it may be necessary to refer the matter for determination by the Industrial Relations Commission.

Any claim will need to set out:

  • how long you have been underpaid
  • how much you were actually paid
  • how much you should have been paid

Sometimes underpayments happen because of computer or human error, wrong number of hours being paid, penalty rates not being applied, other entitlements were not paid such as leave or allowances. Sometimes an employee is paid the right pay rate at the start of their employment but they’re underpaid later. This might happen if:

  • minimum wages increase – minimum wages are reviewed every year and increases usually start from the first full pay period on or after 1 July
  • a junior employee has a birthday – junior pay rates often increase each year on the employee’s birthday
  • an employee’s duties change – more responsibility or different duties can mean the employee is classified at a higher level under an award or agreement
  • an employee completes a job-related qualification – under some awards employees get paid more if they’ve completed more education
  • an apprentice or trainee moves to the next pay level or completes their course.

Your employer will need to respond to the claim. That response must be received within 14 days.

You and your employer will be asked to attend a conciliation conference, which aims to settle the matter by agreement. It is informal and private with each party given an opportunity to explain their position. The SAET Member presiding may during the conference speak to you and your representative as well as your employer separately to develop settlement options. Anything you say privately will not be repeated to the other party without your permission.

If an agreement can be reached then the SAET Member will record the terms of settlement, and  this agreement is binding on the parties. If the matter doesn’t resolve at the conference then it will be given a date for a listing conference. This is an informal type of hearing to make sure that the parties are ready to go to trial, and to set a date for the trial. If the matter goes to trial the discussion or recommendations from the conciliation conference remain confidential and cannot be used at the trial. The timing for all of this is quite short, generally three months.

If you would like advice in relation to a potential underpayment enquiry, we can help you assess your rights and assist you through the process. We work on a no win/no fee basis for unfair dismissal claims so contact us today for a no obligation consultation.