The Employment Court recently overturned a 2016 ERA decision, forcing Smiths City to recompensate hundreds of staff for unpaid work meetings to the tune of $1.5M.
The retail chain expected staff to turn up at 8.45am – 15 minutes prior to the official start of their 9:00am shift – for daily sales meetings. Smiths City argued the meetings were unpaid because they varied from store to store, and attendance was not compulsory, but Judge Inglis viewed it differently. She said the meetings were conducted according to a standardised template provided by the company, and although the meetings had an informal tone, the workers were expected to attend and therefore it constituted a work activity and they should be remunerated for them.
The ruling went on to focus on the fact that many of those affected employees were minimum wage earners, who would therefore drop below the minimum wage threshold once the additional time had been taken into account.
It’s a slightly confusing concept to get your head around, but is easier to understand with an example.
If a fulltime employee was earning an annual salary of $35,000 for an expected 40 hours per week, this would equate to $16.83 per hour.
However, with the additional daily sales meeting of 15mins, equalling an additional 1¼ hours per week, the weekly work-related hours increase to 41¼ and the hourly rate reduces to $16.32, which is below the current minimum wage of $16.50.
That’s the danger zone and if you’re in this space, you could be pinged by a Labour Inspectorate.
So the takeouts from this Smiths City case are two-fold:
Tags: employee relations