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Builder accused of underpaying ‘apprentice’ $10K off to court: Workplace Ombudsman

The Workplace Ombudsman’s office said this week it would argue that the builder, A & A Martins, employed the apprentice but failed to register him and underpaid the employee an average of $200 a week. The Ombudsman’s office said it would tell the Federal Magistrates Court the apprentice’s starting pay of $221.85 a week should have been $513.70 – rising to $553.66 during the term of his employment. Workplace Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell says it will be alleged A & A Martins engaged the youth as an apprentice but knowingly failed to register him over a 12-month period in 2006-07. Campbell said the company also enrolled the employee in a building diploma at the Canberra Institute of Technology, but allegedly did not pay the fees. “As a result, it appears that if he seeks new employment in the building industry he will have to start again as a first-year apprentice and may have to undertake the same courses again,” Campbell said. Workplace inspectors have estimated the employee was underpaid a total of $10,391 during the period October 17, 2006 to October 2, 2007. Campbell said attempts by the Workplace Ombudsman to engage with the company so it would voluntarily rectify the matter had proved fruitless. “In this case, we feel legal action is necessary to deal with this matter and to deter others from similar exploitation,” he said.

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