Are you paying your workers enough?

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Are you paying your workers correctly?

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) recently announced that it has exceeded $1 million in recovered wages for nearly 1400 workers. 


Since 2016, the ABCC has been responsible for ensuring workers in the building and construction industry are paid correctly.  In the 2017-18 period, the ABCC recovered $241,986 for 183 employees, which has now quickly increased to over $1 million, suggesting that not all employers are paying the correct wages for their employees, knowingly or otherwise. The penalties can be high, highlighting the importance of working with an accountant who understands the industry.


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The ABCC’s findings have been discovered through proactively auditing building and construction employers and through complaints lodged with the ABCC against employers.  The audits revealed that whilst over 70% of employers are compliant, the most common reason for underpayment is misinterpreting award provisions for items such as travel and meal expenses.  



Here are some examples of underpayments mistakenly made by building and construction employers;

  1. Failing to comply with enterprise agreement – $115,000 was paid back to seven Queensland bricklayers and $54,000 to ten formwork workers in NSW
  2. Failing to pay the modern award – over $57,000 was paid back to five carpentry apprentices in NSW
  3. Misclassifying employees under the modern award and paying incorrect overtime – $23,500 was recovered for 67 labour hire workers in WA
  4. Failing to pay travel allowance and fares – $10,223 paid back to ten scaffolding workers in NT

The results serve as a timely reminder to make sure employers are paying their workers correctly.  The best way to do this is of course speak to an expert in the field like the team at Tradies Accountants

The ABCC also provide lots of information on wages and entitlements, so here are some of the basic things to consider to make sure everything’s above board;

  • Find out about the terms and conditions of employment under the Fair Work Act -The FW Act provides for various types of industrial instruments that cover employees and contain minimum terms and conditions of employment.  It is important for all employers and employees to know what arrangements are in place.
  • Know your types of employment – an employee’s pay and conditions, as well as rights and responsibilities, depend on their type of employment. Make sure you know the differences between a daily hire employee, full-time weekly hire employee, part-time weekly hire employee, casual employee.
  • Understand Pay – Discover everything you need to know about pay rates, hours of work, allowances and overtime here.
  • Research modern awards – do any of the following apply to you? Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010, Electrical, Electronic and Communications Contracting Award 2010, Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010
  • Look into leave – Understand your obligations for different kinds of leave and employee entitlements
  • Check up on enterprise agreements – if you’re governed by an Enterprise Agreement, make sure you know your obligations as an employer

The Fair Work Act can look complicated, but it doesn’t need to be! If you’re concerned about any of the above, or just want to check you’re doing the right thing, speak to our professional bookkeepers.  Tradies Accountants are able to explain your legal obligations and will make sure you don’t get caught out. Contact us today to get started.


DISCLAIMER: All information provided in this publication is of a general nature only and is not intended to be financial advice.


Ellen Mubwandarikwa