A new website for ‘naming and shaming’ employers who underpay or mistreat their hospitality staff has been launched in Victoria.
It’s called “Rate My Boss”, and works like other ratings websites by workers posting reviews, and warning others about hospitality businesses with poor workplace culture or underpayments, while also spreading the word about good employers.
Reviews can be left anonymously by current and former workers who are asked to give ratings out of five on how staff are treated and what they are paid.
To leave a review, a worker must register an account with the site and agree to its terms and conditions.
The United Voice Union is behind the website.
Victorian Secretary Jess Walsh said in a statement, “As more employers get rated, RateMyBoss.org.au will become the go-to guide for the best and worst places to work in hospitality.”
“RateMyBoss.org.au will change employer behaviour,” she said.
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at employee advocacy firm Industrial Relations Claims, says the hospitality industry is rife with underpayments.
“Hospo workers are ripped off probably more than most, so no one should begrudge a union doing whatever they can to shine a light on the wage theft scourge,” he said.
Even so, Mr Heffernan believes the law, rather than a website, will make the most difference to underpaid employees.
“If fines of 50 thousands dollars per contravention and fines of 10 thousand dollars for any individual involved in wage theft are not deterrent enough, I’m not sure a ‘name and shame’ page will be the silver bullet.”
A United Voice survey of more than 600 hospitality workers last year found 75% of respondents reported wages that were below what they should have been entitled to under their relevant awards.
Last year, celebrity chef George Calombaris had to repay $2.6 million to 162 staff who worked in his restaurants.
It was found they had been underpaid for a period of six years, in what Mr Calombaris described as “historically poor processes” by his businesses.
Also last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman took a Subway operator to court over an alleged $16,000 underpayment of one of their workers.
And then there was Dominos, which was found to have underpaid workers in their pizza stores by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In the past 12 months, the Fair Work Ombudsman has been cracking down on businesses involved in wage theft, recovering $3.9 million in underpayments, compared with $1.4 million over 2015-16.
Mr Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims says results like that are proof that workers are best to leave underpaid wages claims to the proper authorities.
“We advocate that our clients should discreetly sue their employer for every last cent, using the justice system that is well placed to right any wrongs,” he said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman now offers an app, so employees can track their time at work, independent of their boss.
If you believe you are being underpaid, you can take action to recover what you are owed. Please call Industrial Relations Claims on 1300 853 837 for a confidential chat about your options.