FIRST Union has over the last 48 hours been collating complaints from union and non-union members in retail who allege their respective companies have been expecting (and in some instances asking verbally and in writing) employees to either stay back and work late for tasks such as cashing up or tidying up shop, or for work-related meetings for the purposes of customer and sales training.
We have received complaints through our 0800 number, and through a survey we released publically. The survey alone has received around 1,500 responses, of which 30 percent claim they have been required by their employer to work without pay whether it be for a meeting, or end of shift tasks.
The complaints are continuing to come in through our various contact points as we send out this release.
FIRST Union has communicated this morning with Briscoe’s, Rebel Sport, The Warehouse, Countdown, Pak n Save, Cotton On, Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman, Farmers, Kmart, Whitcoulls and Warehouse Stationery to advise complaints have been received that the company needs to investigate. These are not the only companies we have received complaints about, others will be released in due course.
Retail, Finance and Commerce Secretary Tali Williams says the companies involved vary drastically in how widespread the problem is within their company.
“For some, it’s simply a rogue issue with one supervisor or manager not being aware that they are breaking the law, for others it’s a systemic issue throughout company stores nationally.”
Ms Williams says the work with companies will continue over the coming weeks.
“We will work with companies to ensure employees are not asked to work without pay.”
She says companies who welcome the support will see no further action from the union, but those who don’t may face legal disputes.
“Those who do not comply with the law may face legal action from our members who feel they have been short-changed.”
She says many retail workers are on low wages already and can’t afford to work for free.
“If someone is on minimum wage it effectively means they’re not only being paid below the minimum wage, but are missing out on around $800 a year, so this is a big issue for these workers.”