Fair Work inspectors head to the snow

THE Fair Work Ombudsman will send a team of 10 inspectors to the snowfields after finding employers underpaid their staff hundreds of thousands of dollars last season.

NSW and Victorian snowfields employers face checks over coming weeks to ensure seasonal workers in popular winter playgrounds are receiving their correct wages.

Fair Work inspectors have planned return visits to resorts which were assessed last year, as well as additional businesses in and around Selwyn, Adaminaby, Cooma and Berridale.

They will check that employers are paying staff correctly, maintaining appropriate records and providing employees with pay slips.

Last year, the Agency required 39 businesses to repay more than $354,000 to more than 410 employees found to have been short-changed.

The largest underpayment was $34,242 for 30 employees at a single business.

While employers co-operated and repaid all outstanding entitlements, the Fair Work Ombudsman issued 15 Letters of Caution to business operators.

Last year, Fair Work inspectors randomly visited more than 100 employers at Mt Buller, Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, DinnerPlains and Mt Baw Baw in Victoria and Jindabyne, Thredbo and Perisher in NSW.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the main reason for the underpayments was a widespread misunderstanding of Award coverage.

"Most employers were applying the provisions of the Alpine Resorts Award, when in fact they should have been applying the General Retail Industry Award, the Fast Food Industry Award, the Hospitality Industry (General) Award or the Restaurant Industry Award," she said.

The Alpine Resorts Award 2010 only applies to employers whose business activity involves the operation of ski lifts.

"At this time of the year, many young people and many overseas workers head to the snowfields for seasonal work and it's important that if they don't fully understand their workplace rights, that their employers do," Ms James said.

Employers or employees seeking assistance can also contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94, or for those who need an interpreter, on 13 14 50.

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