Are you being ripped off at work?

MANY university students work part-time to earn some extra spending money.

But Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson has urged students to familiarize themselves with their workplace rights to ensure they were not unwittingly being taken advantage of.

Photo: Samantha Su

Photo: Samantha Su

In January last year, a national audit campaign by the Ombudsman revealed more than 1700 young workers had been short-changed a total of $634,000 at work.

The workers were eventually back-paid whatever they were owed.

“Students, especially those living in Australia for the first time, can be vulnerable to exploitation as they are often unaware of their right to minimum wage conditions, penalty rates and leave entitlements,” Mr Wilson said.

“Money can be tight when you’re a student, so it’s important to make sure you’re not missing out on pay and entitlements.

“Even one or two dollars less in your hourly rate of pay can make a difference.”

He said knowledge was the best defence against unfair treatment at work, and gave some examples.

Workers should receive a payslip from their employer, unpaid work trials were generally against the law, as well as deducting money from an employee’s wages if the cash register was short or if customers reported damaged stock.

For more information, students can call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free information and advice, or visit

Students will also be able to chat online with a Fair Work Adviser about any problems they may have encountered.

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