For every job role there is a minimum rate of pay or salary which you are entitled to. Any figure under that minimum entitlement means you’re underpaid at work… you are entitled to that difference.

How do I check my minimum entitlements?

You can check your minimum entitlements through reviewing the specific modern award provisions for your industry or if you are not covered by an Award you will need to ensure that you are receiving the correct rate in accordance with the National Employment Standards. However, for most employees checking the legislation can be a little daunting given the volume of information that is available. In those instances, it would be useful to visit the Fair Work website where there is an interactive pay calculator which will provide you with the information you need. Once the correct entitlements are identified you will need to record your employment history including the exact period of time during which you were underpaid.

What action can I take against my employer?

Now that you have established you are being underpaid there are numerous courses of action you can undertake:

  1. A lot of the time underpayments are an inadvertent error by the employer. In those instances it would be best to politely bring the matter to your employer’s attention. You can also highlight the importance of keeping up-to-date with changes in the Modern Award. Your employer can then register with Fair Work to ensure that they receive information on the most up-to-date changes in relation to the relevant modern award or National Employment Standards.
  2. If your employer chooses not to comply with your request it will then be necessary to write a formal letter of demand specifying the exact amount you are owed.
  3. In circumstances where your employer remains unresponsive, then lodging an application with the Fair Work Ombudsman will be required.
  4. If all else fails, then you are entitled to pursue the outstanding monies through the courts.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is a good avenue to pursue as it is free and accessible to all individuals. However, in our experience it generally takes a while for the complaint to be fully resolved. In contrast, we have found that sending a formal letter of demand on behalf of our client directly to their employer procures a faster response and resolves the issue far more effectively. If you believe you are being underpaid at work, please contact JFMLAW and we will assist you in identifying your exact entitlements as well as advising you on the best course of action.

John Morrissey

T: +61 2 9331 0266

John Morrissey has been a practising Sydney solicitor for 30 years, and for the past 20 a sole practitioner and the principal at JFMLAW.

His main focus employment law, advising small to medium-sized firms and their employees of their rights and obligations.

For many years he was a lecturer at UTS to students obtaining Masters in Human Resources Management with a focus on performance management and creating a culture of delivery in workplaces. John has acted for a significant number of employers, not only in developing a performance based culture in the workplace but also solving particular problems that arise relating to unfair dismissal, contract disputes, improper use of intellectual property or other property as well as enforcements of restraints of trade.

John is very happy to speak to any employer who has an issue on a free of charge basis by a phone call. Please feel free to ring John at anytime up to 6pm most days.
John Morrissey