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  1. #1
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    Default Unfair work conditions WWYD?

    Does anyone know where I should contact to report a business taking unfair advantage of its employees?

    My mum (60) is a hairdresser, has been all her life, has owned her own salon etc and very experienced. Also very old school, hard working, doesn't complain etc. a couple of years ago she agreed to work 2 days a week for an old friend who has her own salon (after mum sold hers, wanting to wind down). Said friend is about same age, they used to work together 30 years ago. Anyway, said friend (Boss) also has other businesses and rarely works in the salon, and according to my mum has some health issues that cause her to be forgetful and ditsy.

    Fast forward 2 years and my mum is working 3-4 days a week - because Boss regularly forgets to roster people on, overbooks, or staff call in sick but Boss is uncontactable so staff call mum. Because mum will go in rather than leave poor staff to try to run a busy salon on their own. Mum also takes care of most of cleaning, washing towels etc. which she is not paid for - she dies it because no one else will.

    Over the years there have been pay disputes such as unpaid super etc, which mum has tried to resolve.

    My main concern however, is that mum goes in at 7:30am often working until 6pm and has NO BREAK. Not even a loo break let alone lunch or tea. On her feet all day, extremely busy, because said BOSS regularly overbooks, advertises ridiculously cheap treatments and accepts walk-ins. Boss shows up on the morning (late morning), accepts more bookings and tells mum and the other girls they'll just have to 'fit them in'. And then leaves for the day.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. I have had numerous chats with mum? Who is often reduced to tears after a day's work, saying this isn't right etc. any chats my mum has tried to have with Boss are unsuccessful or forgotten. Boss pretends she is dumb but I think she is taking advantage of her workers.
    Mum won't leave because she is desperate for money and honestly thinks she couldn't find another job at her age. She is always the one to pick up the slack as she cares about the customers and other staff.
    Despite her experience, she comes from the old school mentality where jobs are word of mouth and she has never done a CV in her life. She isn't interested in going back to being her own boss. She just wants to work a few days a week to keep cash coming in. But at her age she can't be working on her feet all day without a break. And definitely not coming home crying because her Boss has worked her to the brink.

    I am not sure what to do. Mum doesn't want me interfering but I am worried this will kill her - literally. I want to report Boss to someone or something that will take action but look after the employees. Is this even possible?

    There doesn't seem to be much info on Fair Work Australia website...

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    Could you call fair work and see what they say? They may say to contact a lawyer. But.... a complaint could be lodged with fair work. But I am pretty sure a name needs to be put against the complaint.

    What about a union?

    Those working conditions are completely unacceptable. She could have kept her own salon and had less stress. Your poor mum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiny Dancer View Post
    Could you call fair work and see what they say? They may say to contact a lawyer. But.... a complaint could be lodged with fair work. But I am pretty sure a name needs to be put against the complaint.

    What about a union?

    Those working conditions are completely unacceptable. She could have kept her own salon and had less stress. Your poor mum.
    Yeah I might contact a lawyer friend for advice good idea. I can't afford a lawyer (and my mum certainly can't and wouldn't) but my friend might be able to suggest something. Fair Work looks like a PIA, minimum 30 min hold time and I would need to know a lot of detail about company before they would be able to help. I don't even know how to obtain a lot of that info TBH.

    I feel some kind of warning - written and official - might help as verbal complaints are going unheard and without record.

    Don't think there is a hairdressing Union. The hairdressing industry is pretty rife with bad working conditions. Mum has previously lost thousands in unpaid super etc due to a previous boss filing for bankruptcy. ATO were no help.

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    I wasn't sure if there would be a union either, but google came up with the Australian Worker's Union https://www.awu.net.au/who-can-join

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    The problem is that all complaints to anyone with power has to come from the person employed. From my understanding. My nephew boss is a shocker. Just last week he hadn't paid him for 6 weeks. He works from 6 am to 11pm most days. 7 freaking days a week for months on end. Than he might get a day off. But only pays for a 38 hr week. He didn't give him his forms to do tax until months after the they were supposed to be done. He is treated like dirt. My nephew has a learning disability and is super loyal and won't leave and won't speak up for himself. My sister has tried everything under the supervision to do something but she keeps hit brick walls because he needs to put in the complaints

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    VicPark  (12-04-2016)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LoveLivesHere View Post
    The problem is that all complaints to anyone with power has to come from the person employed. From my understanding. My nephew boss is a shocker. Just last week he hadn't paid him for 6 weeks. He works from 6 am to 11pm most days. 7 freaking days a week for months on end. Than he might get a day off. But only pays for a 38 hr week. He didn't give him his forms to do tax until months after the they were supposed to be done. He is treated like dirt. My nephew has a learning disability and is super loyal and won't leave and won't speak up for himself. My sister has tried everything under the supervision to do something but she keeps hit brick walls because he needs to put in the complaints
    Yeah I thought as much. Mum will never complain. She really needs to stand up to her boss. I worry she will have a heart attack or stroke given how hard she is pushing herself. She is also very loyal to her customers that have followed her from salon to salon. She doesn't want to let them down. It's impossible to talk to her, I have to sit by and watch her suffer it's heartbreaking.

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    Default Unfair work conditions WWYD?

    Hun not trying to sound harsh however your mum needs to either accept the status quo or do something about it herself. If she really thinks being openly firm with her boss will backfire then she can start by not answering her phone when staff call and not going in when she's not rostered on. Her boss will soon learn.

    In the meantime it sounds like your mum should join the union if she hasn't already.
    Last edited by VicPark; 12-04-2016 at 20:48.

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    Your mum needs to make sure she is keeping accurate records of the hours she works, tasks she does and responsibilities she has. If she doesn't, it doesn't sound like her boss will be keeping accurate records and if it ends in dispute, her boss may claim she hasn't done the work.
    Fair work may investigate if an employee calls. I don't know though.
    Agree with joining the AWU immediately!

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    It's a tough situation for your mum. If she is that essential to the business and the Boss gets in enough trouble (definitely will get an employer obligation audit if your mum tells them she hasn't received her super entitlements), she might just shut the business down and your mum will be out of a job. I'm sorry to say but this has to be something your mum does, not you. It's her job and she will be the one taking the risk. I wouldn't report the boss yourself if I were you. But you can certainly speak to your mum about standing up for herself - demanding more money and better working conditions.

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    First thing I would do is try and get hold of an award payment document for hairdressers. That will outline mandatory breaks etc. Mum needs to present it to the boss and tell her it needs to be fixed. I'd also get her to apply for jobs at the same time.

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