$75,000 to help SMEs avoid underpayments

The WA Government will bolster CCIWA’s mission to help businesses avoid employee underpayments through a $75,000 grant.

Last week, WA Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston announced $300,000 would go to four employer and employee organisations to help employers and employees unpick award requirements.

The Chamber will use the funding to help businesses in regional WA better understand employment law and avoid underpayments, adding to the Chamber’s extensive work in the area with its members.

CCIWA Workplace Relations Director Ryan Martin said multiple layers of complexity around industrial instruments meant some businesses inadvertently fell into the trap of underpaying their workers.

A government inquiry in June last year identified that members of industrial associations, such as CCIWA, were less likely to engage in underpayments because they have access to education and resources on wage compliance.

Following this, the WA Government invited CCIWA to apply to an Industrial Relations Department grant program on educating businesses on employment law.

Martin said the CCIWA identified regional areas as being in need of increased support in this space.

“We think that one of the key areas is regional because they don’t necessarily have access to an industrial team like we have here at CCIWA.

“Being able to reach those non-members, and educate regional, small and medium-sized businesses on the State versus Federal system and the different awards and how to classify employees, we hope will go a long way to reducing incidences of underpayment and making sure that they understand the framework and can avoid the issues and also understand the penalties for non-compliance.

“It’s about trying to educate people on what they don’t know, so that they can get it right. It’s meant to give them the tools to understand what they’re supposed to do so they don’t accidentally fall foul of the law.”

Martin says regional businesses, including horticulture and agriculture operations, are not necessarily equipped with the resources to properly understand wage systems, so CCIWA could play a vital role in helping such organisations.

CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell says WA businesses are overwhelmingly doing their best to meet their pay obligations to workers.

“When underpayment does occur, it’s often discovered because companies have conducted self-review and are working to put things right.”


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