For everyone The Law & You: Every dollar counts

Employers sometimes make errors when paying their employees, so it pays to check that you’re receiving your correct entitlements, writes AEU industrial officer URSULA McBRIDE.

We know that for our members, every hard-earned dollar counts. The AEU’s industrial team has been working with members on underpayment claims, and we are finding that even large employers sometimes make errors when paying their employees.

Check your payslip

It is important that you regularly check your payslip to confirm you are being paid correctly. The Fair Work Act and its regulations provide important rights in relation to employee records. Your employer is required to provide you with a payslip within one working day of a pay day.

Pay slips can be in hard copy or electronic form and should include the pay period, date of payment, and gross and net pay. Also, your ordinary hourly rate, number of hours worked at that rate and total dollar amount of pay at that rate.

It should also include any loadings (including any casual loading), allowances, incentive-based payments and penalty rates; any deductions from your pay; and any superannuation contributions paid (or that need to be made).

Employers are not required to include leave balances on a payslip, though many do. There are separate rules around the recording of leave balances and if you request these from your employer, they must provide them to you.

This can be a complex area, so if in any doubt, seek assistance.

Common pay errors

Employers do make mistakes, sometimes in a systemic way. Your payslip will generally be the most helpful document to help you identify any errors. We recommend you check that:

  • you have been employed or classified at the correct rate of pay
  • if you have recently changed jobs, where your classification depends upon your qualification and/or experience, ensure you have provided your employer with evidence of your qualifications and/or experience
  • you are being paid for your hours of work – while this may seem straightforward, we have seen some members not paid lunch or tea breaks despite being required to work, or where they have an entitlement to a paid break
  • you are getting paid any relevant loadings or entitlements – we have seen employers not pay first aid allowances or annual leave loading
  • any additional hours you work are being recorded and paid – this is commonly missed for part-time staff who may agree to work additional hours and/or overtime
  • any miscalculation of an entitlement, such as a WorkCover weekly payment or make-up pay
  • you have received a pay increase or agreed period of backpay following the certification of a new agreement.

Your employment contract sets out the relevant terms of your employment. You can also log in to the AEU member website, which provides sector-based information on your pay and conditions.
We can assist you to identify and recover any outstanding amounts. This can be a complex area, so if in any doubt, seek assistance.

Superannuation

The most common type of contribution going into your super account is likely to be the Superannuation Guarantee, which is the contribution your employer must make into a super fund on your behalf. There are obligations on employers to pay the correct contributions and they may face penalties if they do not.

Super is a percentage of your salary or wages, set by the Commonwealth government. The Superannuation Guarantee recently increased from 9.5% to 10% from 1 July 2021 and is set to rise again to 10.5% from 1 July 2022. This makes it a timely reminder to check that your employer is paying you the correct rate and that these contributions are being paid into your nominated fund.

We want you to get the benefits you are entitled to.

Insurance

Whilst reviewing your super benefits, you should also check any insurance coverage through your super fund and if your current levels of cover meet your needs.
Super funds typically offer three types of insurance: Life Insurance; Total and Permanent Disability insurance; and Income Protection insurance.

There is a cost (or premium) for holding eligible cover. A change in super law now requires super funds to cancel insurance on inactive accounts that have not received contributions for at least 16 months. Some super funds may also cancel insurance where balances are too low.

Any members who have been absent from the workplace, or who are on extended leave without pay, should check their coverage, and contact their super fund and/or make a contribution to ensure their insurance is not cancelled. If you have any personal insurance-related queries, we recommend you seek independent financial advice.

We want you to get the benefits you are entitled to. If you have questions regarding your pay or entitlements, please contact the AEU so we can help you investigate.

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