If the large corporations with sophisticated systems still underpay staff members, how do the small and medium sized businesses fare in comparison?

Putting aside, for a moment, the intentional underpayers (who need to have the book thrown at them), experience suggests that there are a raft of small and medium-sized businesses that are either unaware of the awards that regulate their businesses or which erroneously apply provisions of the relevant award, or perhaps even the provisions of an irrelevant award.

These businesses are inevitably shocked when they are faced with substantial claims for underpayment stretching back over several years. Some of those claims have the potential to push the businesses into insolvency, in many cases leaving the directors and possibly other officers facing claims against them personally on the grounds of accessorial liability.

Yet the solution is fairly simple. If you own or manage a business make sure you are aware of any relevant awards and ensure that your systems apply the provisions of the award correctly. If you are an advisor to small and medium-sized businesses, make sure that they do the same.

If in any doubt, get some professional advice.