What happens when the Department of Commerce is investigating a complaint about underpayment of pay or leave.
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Employers have a legal obligation to pay employees their lawful wages and entitlements and to keep correct time and wages records. If the Department of Commerce receives a complaint from an employee about their pay, an investigation may occur.
This information is for people in the Western Australian industrial relations system. If you do not know if it is relevant to you, read our information on who is in the WA system.
An application for recovery of wages and entitlements can be made by current or previous employees within 6 years from the time of the alleged underpayment.
Employers may be investigated if an employee believes that they are not being paid correctly under an award, agreement or the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 or if they are being denied a legal entitlement such as annual or long service leave.
Wageline advises employees to approach their employer in the first instance explaining the problem. If this is unsuccessful, Wageline provides a proforma letter for the employee to send to the employer.
If the employer does not resolve the matter directly a formal complaint may be lodged with the Department and the matter will be assigned to an Industrial Inspector for review.
A period of up to 21 days is given to enable the employer and employee to resolve the matter. The Industrial Inspector may assist by liaising with both parties during this period and provide advice on relevant employment rights and obligations.
If the matter is not resolved through conciliation the Department may commence a formal investigation. This may involve inspecting the employer’s time and wages records and conducting interviews with any relevant parties to the dispute.
If the claim is substantiated the Industrial Inspector will attempt to recover the full outstanding entitlements from the employer. If the employer refuses to pay, the Department may prosecute through the Industrial Magistrate’s Court.
If a contravention or failure to comply with state industrial laws is proved, the Industrial Magistrate’s Court can make orders for payment of any unpaid wages and entitlements and may impose a penalty on the employer.