Underpaid sales agent compensated

An agency that underpaid a sales consultant by more than $16,000, after incorrectly hiring her as an independent contractor, has been handed an enforceable undertaking by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Queensland-based Centenary Suburbs Sales and Management, located in Mount Ommaney and Kenmore, hired an ‘independent contractor’ from May to November last year.

According to the Ombudsman, the contractor was paid on a commission-only basis and received no income during her employment. After she left, she received $1,365 for commission on the sale of one property and superannuation.

The Fair Work Ombudsman later concluded that the consultant should have been engaged as an employee under the Real Estate Industry Award 2010, and had therefore been underpaid a total of $16,600.

As part of the enforceable undertaking (EU), the agency has voluntarily back-paid all outstanding entitlements and written the former employee a letter of apology.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said serving EUs has become the preferred method to proactively improve compliance rates in the real estate industry.

“We are serious about our job of building knowledgeable and fairer workplaces and don’t insist there is only one way to achieve compliance - education and positive motivators are equally as important as deterrents,” she said.

“Their purpose is to focus the employer on the tasks to be carried out to remedy the alleged contravention and/or prevent a similar contravention in the future,” Ms James said.

“Many of the initiatives included in enforceable undertakings - like compulsory training sessions - help to build a greater understanding of workplace responsibilities, motivate the company to do the right thing and help them avoid the same mistakes again.”

As part of the EU, Centenary Suburbs Sales and Management has agreed to update a range of measures including:

  • Putting policies and procedures in place to ensure ongoing compliance with the Fair Work Act and the Real Estate Industry Award 2010
  • Organising workplace relations training for managers responsible for human resources, recruitment and payroll functions
  • Assessing each independent contractor to ensure they are engaged lawfully, and auditing the pay packets of all employees to ensure they are receiving their minimum entitlements
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