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5 types of Wage Theft

July 9, 2021

Wage theft is unfortunately super common in the Hair and Beauty Industry. In fact, a Fair Work Ombudsman (or FWO) investigation into hair and beauty salons in WA found 48% were ‘non-compliant’ – meaning workers were underpaid.

Stolen wages extend beyond just not being paid for hours you’ve worked. The Hair and Beauty Award is the minimum pay standards for hair stylists, regardless of your contract. In the Award, there are heaps of provisions which you might be missing out on at work.

To help with identifying wage theft, we have listed the 5 most common forms of wage theft in our industry:

1: Not getting penalty rates for working weekends, overtime, or on your RDO. ALL workers, including casuals and apprentices, are entitled to penalty rates if you work specific hours. Find out more about which penalty rates apply to you here.

2: Unpaid breaks. All those rest breaks you don’t get can really add up. If you work through your two 10-minute breaks every day, as a full-time senior stylist, then that’s about $40 per week you’re missing out on – or $2,080 a year.

3: Being on the wrong Award rate. There are 6 levels of the Hair and Beauty Award, which are determined by your qualification, and work duties. Apprentices also receive different rates of pay, depending on the year of your apprenticeship, and if you started at 21 years or older. Check out the full rates of pay under the Award here!

4: Not being paid super! You should receive 10% of your earnings EXTRA in your superannuation account, at least quarterly. This is about $4000 per year for a full-time senior stylist. We strongly recommend you check your super regularly to make sure payments are coming in, and if you have multiple super accounts, track them down and consolidate them.

5: Not receiving allowances. If you have to use your own tools (including scissors) at work, then you’re entitled to $9.44 per week of tool allowance. This is the most common allowance workers miss out on, but there are also allowances for meals, managers, travel and special clothing. You can read up about it here.

Even though wage theft is really common in our industry, right now, it’s only a crime in VIC (and soon will be in QLD too). This means that you can launch criminal proceedings if you know it happened since it became law.

What about the other states? You do have a few options, including contacting the FWO, and putting in a claim at your local small-claims court.

We know that can get confusing, which is where HSA can help! We’ll calculate the full amount you’re owed, and work with FWO and your employer to help reclaim your lost wages.

In the last 12 months, we’ve reclaimed over $130,000 for our members. Some were huge, but we also settled a number of claims under $1000. So even if you don’t think you’re owed much, it’s still worth it!

If you’re experiencing wage theft, become an HSA member today and get the advice and support you need.

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