Legal

Retailer A-Mart All Sports fined for refusing to pay staff

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National sporting goods retailer A-Mart All Sports has been fined and heavily criticised for forcing staff at two of its stores to perform unpaid work before opening and after close each day.

National sporting goods retailer A-Mart All Sports has been fined and heavily criticised for forcing staff at two of its stores to perform unpaid work before opening and after close each day.

The Workplace Ombudsman launched legal action against A-Mart after an investigation revealed staff were pressured to put in up to 30 minutes of unpaid work at the beginning and end of shifts.

A-Mart inherited the “work without pay” policy at its Hobart and Glenorchy stores in Tasmania when it purchased them from competitor Rowe and Jarman.

But the Federal Magistrates Court heard that A-Mart strictly enforced the policy, in one instance sacking an employee for refusing to put in the unpaid work-time.

In his decision Federal Magistrate Philip Burchardt said the company had engaged in “Dickensian” conduct that called for the “most severe condemnation”.

“Making people work for nothing is outrageous and totally at odds with acceptable behaviour,” Burchardt said. “It is difficult to imagine a work practice (excluding issues relating to physical violence) which could be more pernicious than requiring employees, as the price of obtaining paid employment, to work not insubstantial periods of time unpaid.”

In addition to the magisterial tongue lashing, A-Mart was fined $52,800 and ordered to back-pay 44 mostly casual staff a total of $41,235 for underpayments dating back to 2005.

 

Read more on workplace agreements and remuneration

 

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