Every day, our Workplace Advice and Support team receives numerous requests for support with underpayment claims.
Small claims of up to $20,000 can be made by current and former employees in the Small Claims Division of the Federal Circuit Court or the Magistrate’s Court.. For claims over $20,000 you’ll need to make a claim to the Fair Work division of the Federal Circuit Court.
When a member calls with a claim, we take care of the process, which can seem complex at first. This includes calculating the size of the underpayment, and sending letters of demand to the employer. We then file the claim and evidence required in the court before serving the claim to the employer.
Recently, we won back unpaid annual leave for our members who were former employees of Lockheed Martin. Below, we provide a brief summary the process to claim back this entitlement.
A number of members expressed their wish to pursue claims for outstanding annual leave. We then issued a dispute with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) about the leave entitlements and total remuneration of the former employees upon their termination in 2018.
As part of the dispute, Lockheed Martin was compelled to provide payslips for the members wishing to pursue this claim.
We reviewed the payslips and concluded that Lockheed Martin had unlawfully deducted annual leave for days that coincided with public holidays. Lockheed Martin admitted that leave was unlawfully deducted when that occurred. Despite instances where former employees may no longer have access to their rosters, payslips and/or employment contracts – were were determined to assess and calculate any outstanding Award entitlements that were owed.
During proceedings, Lockheed Martin conceded that some of its employees are covered by the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award (the Manufacturing Award). It was previously maintained those employees were covered by the Professional Employees Award. This means members who were employed as technicians, were able to pursue an underpayment claim under the Manufacturing Award.
In the end, members who pursued this claim received payments ranging from $983.13 to $3,273.63.
Where to next?
We’re still concerned that the annualised salaries paid to Lockheed Martin (employees past and present) may not have adequately compensated those employees for all of the entitlements payable under that Award, such as overtime and penalty rates.
We acknowledge that some incidents happen through error and many employers do the right thing and pay their workers properly. As an organisation, our goal is to stamp out dodgy employers who deliberately underpay their employees, and help employees rectify these issues.
We encourage our members to remain vigilant about their wages and conditions and recommend they review the terms and conditions of their employment.
If you are interested in pursuing an individual underpayment in respect to outstanding Award entitlements, please contact Workplace Advice and Support by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 1300 273 762 to discuss whether you have a claim.