Are you paying your employees correctly? You can't afford to get it wrong.

South Australian Business News
Elisa Luck
Wednesday, April 26th 2023

Are you paying your employees correctly? Quite simply, you can’t afford to get it wrong.

The underpayment of wages is making headlines right now. The (now) Malinauskas Government put it on the radar when they made a pre-election promise to criminalise wage theft in South Australia. 

The South Australian Business Chamber successfully advocated the Attorney General to stop SA introducing the new legislation as planned – given similar legislation is being proposed federally. We argued that resources would be better spent educating businesses to understand the complex modern awards system and the many other rules and regulations at play.

However, businesses cannot be complacent as the federal legislation will still be delivered, and the underpayment of wages remains an area of focus of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) with penalties being imposed against businesses right across the country, including here in South Australia.

As reported this week in The Advertiser, South Australian business owners were fined almost $150K in 2022 for short-changing South Australian workers of more than $300K.

South Australian examples from March this year include the FWO securing court orders for more than $31K in penalties and back-pay against the former director of two Subway outlets in Adelaide.

The FWO also fined a company $16,550 and its owner $3,330 for failing to meet the unpaid leave entitlements of $1,019 for an employee who left the business. The FWO will continue to be proactive and conduct inspections on businesses to ensure their compliance with workplace laws, which may involve speaking with business owners, managers and employees and requesting to see records to ensure there are no underpayments of wages.

The FWO will not just focus on the rate of pay that the employee is receiving, but may also be looking for low flat rates, unrecorded employment arrangements, inaccurate records, unreasonable unpaid trials, incorrect applications of Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement provisions, inadequate rest breaks and more.

At the South Australian Business Chamber, we work with thousands of businesses who are attempting to do the right thing and pay their staff correctly, however we know that industrial relations is complex, and at times unintentional mistakes are made which may result in an underpayment.

How we can help

You can’t afford to get it wrong! the South Australian Business Chamber’s team of consultants are experts in industrial relations and can work with you to conduct an audit on your payroll system to ensure it is compliant.

Our Workplace Advisors are also available to take your call and provide you with advice on rates of pay, modern award classifications and more.

Contact the South Australian Business Chamber on (08) 8300 0000 (select option 1) and we will make sure you that are not at risk of a costly underpayment.


Elisa Luck

General Manager, Programs and Consulting
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