Work related training – are you being ripped off?

November 13, 2019 Know Your Rights News Our Resources

By Justin Power, Assistant State Secretary

Are you being paid for work-related training?

The union office is receiving more and more phone calls and emails from distressed members who are doing work in their own time and not being paid for it. In each situation, we advise members what their rights are and what can be done to resolve the issue.

Excellent outcome

In a Queensland regional town there was a particularly over zealous store manager who thought we were living in 1999 and not 2019. He honestly believed that he was a very good manager. He wanted his employees to work hard and if they did, he would try everything in his power to reward them. More than that, his ‘good management theory’ meant that he wanted his staff to do a lot of work in their own time and not be paid for it. (After all, that’s what he did when he started work).

Some examples of this were:

  • Staff members working extra hours before and after their shift with the full knowledge of the manager and not being paid for the time worked;
  • Not taking their allotted paid tea breaks;
  • Coming in on their days off and not being paid for it.

Fast forward two years and surprise, surprise, the store manager became more adventurous. He instructed his lower management to tell their staff to complete their on-line training at home. These particular on-line training courses concerned first aid. The on-line training had to be completed before the physical course.

But wait there’s more…

Management started to pressure staff if they didn’t maintain the current ’custom and practice’ of doing work in their own time or completing on-line training at home. In fact, management pressured staff by suggesting they would take hours off them or dismiss them if they couldn’t get the work done or the on-line training completed outside of the times they were being paid.

The truth of the matter was that this particular store manager was ill-equipped to deal with the situation. He was ripping his staff off. At the time, head office thought he was exceptional and his bonuses grew.

An important phone call was made…

The stress in the store had become unbearable. Beth decided to ring the union office. She initially spoke to one of our Information Officers and was informed that the practices in her store were illegal and had to stop. Additionally, Beth was informed that the staff members were entitled to backpay and it was also important that head office senior management needed to be told the truth. The Information Officer suggested to Beth that her SDA Organiser had to become involved and that a meeting of the SDA members in the store should occur.
The Organiser held a meeting with the SDA members and the full story emerged. After 90 minutes, the Organiser gathered the facts and made a decision to seek the legal expertise of one of the Union’s Industrial Officers.

Within twenty days, head office had completed their investigations, paid all monies owed including the ‘unpaid work’ and the ‘unpaid online training’. The manager received a first and final warning for inappropriate behaviour and was retrained to ensure all employees are paid for all time and receive their full entitlements.

Beth and her fellow SDA members were delighted with the outcome and are so thankful that Beth made that phone call to the union office.