Fair Work claws back $500m for underpaid workers


Half a billion returned to ripped-off workers, shoppable TV to hit the small screen, and tax man warns final deadline is fast approaching. Here are five things you may have missed this week.

Ombudsman claws back half a billion for ripped-off workers

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered a record $509 million for over 250,000 underpaid workers over the 2022-23 year.

fair work commission claws back half a billion dollars for underpaid workers

It's the second consecutive year that more than half a billion dollars in underpayments has been recovered, following $317 million being handed over to underpaid employees in 2021-22.

More than half of last year's recoveries came from large corporate and university employers.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth says, "$1 billion in back payments across the last two years alone is an important result making a real difference to workers' lives."

The Ombudsman is putting employers on notice that they need to meet all their workers' lawful entitlements.

If you think you could be getting ripped off at work, jump onto the Ombudsman's website or call 13 13 94.

Shoppable TV to arrive in 2024

Ever watched an episode of Survivor and thought, "Gee I'd love one of those sweatbands"?

Well, the opportunity to buy what you see on screen will soon be yours.

Paramount Australia together with tech partner KERV, will launch shoppable TV during the next season of Australian Survivor.

In a global first for Paramount - and Aussie viewers - shoppable TV is a chance to purchase products from your favourite show, straight from your TV screen.

Viewers can use their remote control to watch, pause, browse, select and purchase the Survivor merchandise they have just viewed.

After selecting a product, a shoppable screen will provide detailed product information and a QR code directing viewers to 'Shop Now'.

The shoppable TV pilot is due to be completed by March 2024.

Tax returns due by October 31

With only days to go before the October 31 deadline to lodge do-it-yourself tax returns, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is urging chain draggers to get moving.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Rob Thomson says more than 9.5 million people have already lodged their tax returns.

"We've seen a last-minute rush in recent weeks with lodgments increasing by 14%, but there are still some people yet to lodge," notes Thomson.

He adds, "Whatever the reason for waiting until the last minute, it's important to lodge your tax return on time, or engage with a registered tax agent before October 31.

"For people with straight-forward affairs, lodging should take less time than mowing the lawn or folding the laundry."

If you need a helping hand, or have more complex tax affairs, you may like to engage a registered tax agent.

Or check out the ATO's Tax Help program.

It's a free service open to people who earn $60,000 or less each year and have simple tax affairs. It's available until the end of October.

Gold price hits record highs

There's nothing like a crisis to push the value of gold higher, and the precious metal has surged in recent days following the conflict in Israel.

Seen by many as a safe haven in uncertain times, gold skyrocketed to a new high this week of $3103 per troy ounce.

Five years ago, a troy ounce was worth $1634.

Many gold-related stocks have also climbed higher.

Perth-based Emerald Resources (ASX:EMR), which owns gold mines in Cambodia, saw its stock rise to $2.91, up from $2.52 in early October.

Shares in Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS), another WA gold producer, are sitting at $1.68, up from $1.14 at the start of this month.

Gold-focused exchange traded funds have benefited too.

The unit price of BetaShares Gold Bullion (currency hedged) ETF (ASX:QAU) has jumped from $15.43 in early October to $16.69 this week.

Other listed funds that offer access to the gold markets include Perth Mint Gold (ASX:PMGOLD), and the  Van Eck Gold Miners ETF (ASX:GDX).

Icelandic women strike for equal pay

Tuesday saw women across Iceland - including Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdóttir - down tools and strike in a bid to end unequal pay.

The irony is that Iceland has the world's lowest gender pay gap of 9% according to the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) 2023 Global Gender Gap Index.

Australia sits in 26th place (alongside Mozambique), with the dubious distinction of women earning 22% less than men.

As Aussie employers grapple with a skills shortage, women may be well-placed to negotiate a pay uptick.

Recruitment firm Robert Half says almost one in two employers report jobseekers negotiating harder on salary this year compared to last.

Nicole Gorton, director at Robert Half, says a cost-of-living squeeze means workers "are more willing to test the negotiation waters".

However, she adds that requests for higher pay need to be backed up with evidence that you're worth the extra money.

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A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.