The Fair Work Commission in Australia has various responsibilities, including setting and adjusting the national minimum wage, resolving workplace disputes, approving enterprise agreements, dealing with unfair dismissals, and providing information and education on workplace relations matters. It serves as a regulatory authority overseeing employment practices and ensuring compliance with workplace laws in Australia.


In recent years, several high-profile cases of underpayment have been in Australia, particularly in the retail and hospitality industries. Many companies were found to have underpaid their employees by not providing them with the correct minimum wage, penalty rates, or other entitlements. Some of the most notable examples include:

1.  7-Eleven. 

In 2015, an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that 7-Eleven franchisees had systematically underpaid workers across the country. The company ultimately agreed to pay $44 million in back pay to workers.

2. Woolworths.

In 2018, Woolworths was found to have underpaid 5,700 of its salaried store managers by $300 million over a period of eight years.

3. Coles.

In 2019, Coles was found to have underpaid thousands of workers by $20 million over a period of six years.

4. Domino's Pizza.

In 2018, the Fair Work Ombudsman found that Domino's Pizza had underpaid workers by almost $8 million.

5. George Calombaris.

In 2019, celebrity chef George Calombaris was found to have underpaid 162 workers at his Melbourne restaurants by $7.8 million.

6. BHP.

Only this month, Aussie mining monster BHP admitted to underpaying  almost 30000 workers, dating back to 2010. Looks like $400 million will be its cost to make amends.

These cases demonstrate the widespread problem of underpayment in Australia and the need for stronger enforcement and compliance measures to protect workers' rights. The government has also been taking steps to improve compliance and fairness in the workplace by increasing penalties, strengthening compliance measures and creating a task force to investigate and prosecute underpayment cases.


Let's face it; the Australian award system is complex as heck. If even massive companies like those above can get it wrong, it means the challenge of staying Fair Work compliant is enormous for small businesses that simply don't have the same resources.

The best way to ensure your business remains compliant and avoids the penalties of underpayment of employees is to implement a rostering and payroll solution in your operation that includes an award interpretation tool

Software such as RosterElf is very affordable and will give you peace of mind that your company is payroll compliant at all times. If you would like a free demo of our platform, including our award interpretation engine, drop us a line HERE

Have Questions?

We Have The Answers!

What is the role of the Fair Work Commission in Australia?

The Fair Work Commission sets the national minimum wage, resolves workplace disputes, approves enterprise agreements, addresses unfair dismissals, and educates on workplace relations.

How did 7-Eleven address its underpayment issues?

7-Eleven agreed to pay $44 million in back pay after an investigation revealed systematic underpayment across its franchises.

What can small businesses do to ensure payroll compliance?

Implement a payroll solution with an award interpretation tool, like RosterElf, to ensure compliance with Fair Work regulations and avoid penalties.

How does software like RosterElf help with payroll compliance?

RosterElf provides an affordable solution with award interpretation to ensure businesses remain compliant with Fair Work requirements, reducing the risk of underpayment.

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