Making a complaint about underpayment of wages or entitlements

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Employee / worker

Make an underpayment complaint to Private Sector Labour Relations industrial inspectors

This page is for employees who believe they have been underpaid wages or leave entitlements under state employment laws. 

This information is relevant for:

Private Sector Labour Relations division at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety is able to investigate alleged underpayments of these entitlements.

Employees can follow the steps below to make an underpayment complaint to Private Sector Labour Relations.

The information on this page is not relevant for:

  • Employees in the national industrial relations system who need help with underpayment of rates of pay, annual leave or other employment entitlements. These employees should seek assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman
  • Employees who are seeking to make a claim for pay rates above award or minimum rates or other benefits under an employment contract which has been denied to them by their employer. These employees may be able to make a Contractual Benefits Claim to the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The Commission can deal with contractual benefits claims for employees in both the state industrial relations system and the national industrial relations system. Visit the Commission’s website for details. 

Step One - check your entitlements

If you are unsure, call Wageline on 1300 655 266.

Step Two - talk to your employer

You should first speak to your employer to see if you can resolve the issue. In doing so, you can inform your employer that you have spoken to Wageline and let them know what information Wageline has told you about your entitlements.

Step Three - put your claim in writing to your employer

As well as talking to your employer, you should put your concerns in writing to your employer. A sample letter is available to assist you - this letter can be changed depending upon the nature of your claim.

Your letter should provide as much information as possible about how you believe you have not been paid your correct entitlements. A letter that contains facts without emotive language is more likely to assist in resolving the matter. 

You can also provide the employer with information to support your claim such as a copy of the Wageline WA award summary. 

You should set a reasonable timeframe in which you would like a response - for example 14 days.  

You may wish to email your letter, or send it by post or registered mail. 

You will need to keep a copy of the letter and the delivery receipt if sent by registered mail. If you make a formal complaint to Private Sector Labour Relations (see Step Four) then you will be required to provide a copy of the letter that you sent to your employer and any response received as part of the process of making a formal complaint. 

Step Four - making a formal complaint 

Before making a complaint to Private Sector Labour Relations about underpaid wages or entitlements, you should try to resolve the issue with your employer (see steps two and three).

If you are unable to resolve the issue yourself, you can make a formal complaint to Private Sector Labour Relations.

Ensure you have all your information about your employer (e.g. Business name, ABN and contact name) and supporting documentation (e.g. copies of letters, emails, text messages, or payslips) as once you begin entering information in the online form, you will need to complete and submit the form or it will be necessary to start again.

If you require additional assistance in calculating the amount you are claiming you have been underpaid, please visit the WA long service leave calculator, the annual leave calculation guide, the relevant WA award summary or the Minimum pay rates for award free employees

If you have all your information and are ready, you can make a complaint by completing the Online underpayment of wages or entitlements complaint form

Step Five - conciliation

After your complaint form has been received, we will attempt to conciliate the matter. A conciliation officer will be assigned to your complaint, and will work with you and the employer to attempt to resolve the matter. This conciliation process usually takes approximately 21 days from when the conciliation officer first contacts you. 

Step Six - formal investigation

As per the Private Sector Labour Relations Division Compliance and Enforcement Policy, if your complaint is not resolved via conciliation, your complaint may be allocated to an industrial inspector for formal investigation.  

Private Sector Labour Relations does not formally investigate every complaint that it receives, and exercises discretion in deciding which matters to investigate. Private Sector Labour Relations has developed guidelines to assist determining whether a complaint will be formally investigated. These guidelines are set out at Attachment A in the Private Sector Labour Relations Division Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

If your complaint proceeds to the formal investigation stage, an industrial inspector will be allocated to your case. An industrial inspector is impartial and does not represent either employees or employers. Their role is to investigate possible breaches of employment laws.

During the formal investigation you will need to:

  • provide all the evidence you have about the alleged underpayment of wages or entitlements. This may include:
    • copies of payslips
    • payment summaries (group certificates)
    • bank statements showing payments of wages
    • written contract of employment
    • timesheets
    • diary records
  • provide truthful information about the matter;
  • make a witness statement regarding your employment and the wages and entitlements you have received from the employer; and
  • keep in touch with the industrial inspector investigating your case and inform them of any changes, such as the employer resolving the issue with you or you leaving Western Australia.

Step Seven - conclusion of investigation

After the industrial inspector has completed the formal investigation you will be contacted and told of the outcome. If the evidence supports a breach of employment law, we will advise your employer to repay your unpaid entitlements.

The Compliance and enforcement section has information on compliance tools used and enforcement matters undertaken by Private Sector Labour Relations.

Step Eight - Industrial Magistrates Court

If a breach of employment law is supported by evidence and your employer does not voluntarily resolve it, the matter may be taken to the Industrial Magistrates Court for determination. If this occurs you may be required to give evidence in court.

The Enforcement matters page lists successful enforcement matters brought before the Industrial Magistrates Court.

Taking a claim to the Industrial Magistrates Court 

The Taking a claim to the Industrial Magistrates Court - a guide for employees publication assists employees to independently make a claim to the Industrial Magistrates Court for unpaid entitlements under state employment laws, WA awards and state industrial agreements. 

Make an anonymous report about wage theft 

Use the Anonymous Wage Theft Report Form to make an anonymous report about wage theft under WA state employment laws.

Translating and Interpreting Service

If you require a translation service when phoning Wageline, please use the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.

National Relay Service

The National Relay Service helps people who are deaf, hearing and/or speech-impaired contact Wageline. Call the National Relay Service on 13 36 77 and ask to call Wageline on 1300 655 266, or visit the National Relay Service website.

 

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