People Smartz

Small Business Danger - Doing What You Think is "About Right"

Tony Perkins - Sunday, May 19, 2013

A recent press release from Fair Work Australia says a lot:

"Operators of fast-food food outlets in Brisbane have found out the hard way that paying staff what they thought was about right isn't good enough."

"What's particularly concerning is that many employers claimed to have limited knowledge of the basic entitlements of their staff, Acting Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Bill Loizides, said."

The press release then went on to tell us that a total of $118,000 in back pay had been ordered to be paid to 300 employees across Brisbane.  It was also found that 55% of employers in fast food outlets within food courts of major shopping centres were in breach of workplace laws - either underpaying wages or failing to keep appropriate records.

Recently, one of our People Smartz blog articles addressed the danger of doing what an employer "thinks is about right".  In that blog article we said:

"I am not saying that all employers are out there deliberately being "non-compliant". What I am simply saying is that when something is confusing or hard to understand, some people have a tendency to do what they "think is right".  Sometimes this is not a problem, at other times it is.... ".

Obviously for these Fast Food Outlet operators it was a problem!

This press release provides an example of issues for small business we have been talking about for a long time:

  • It reinforces our belief that small business owners need to simplify and automate their compliance.  
  • It raises again the issue of having laws and regulations that work for the small business community. If we make laws and regulations too onerous to manage, or too complicated to understand, we run the risk of business owners thinking "about right" was good enough.

If you haven't already, have a read of our earlier blog article Lets Make People Management "Simple"  which covers these areas in a bit more detail.


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