As a child, my parents had to convince me the world wasn’t out to get me.

“Don’t worry, darling, that nice man is the lollipop man… Uh, yes, it’s generally frowned upon for him to push you into traffic.”

“Sweetie, your teacher isn’t counting the amount of times you go to the bathroom each day… Well, because why would she?”

“No, you idiot, that shot the doctor gave you won’t make your willy fall off… God, you’re a weird kid.”

I’m sure we all had trust issues early on. One caveat I wish they’d made clear though: “Oh yeah, your boss is totally gonna try rip you off. Watch for that, dumbass.”

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Luckily, if you’ve recently discovered (or even suspect) that you’re being underpaid or unfairly treated at your job, there are steps you can take to rectify that.

Find Out What You’re Entitled To, And What You’re Owed

Remember last week when you spent 3 hours scrolling through Netflix deciding what show you should binge watch next? First off, you’re an idiot if you haven’t jumped on BoJack Horseman yet; second, I’m hoping I’ve shamed you into using maybe an eighth of that effort into checking out this site.

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Here’s where you can find the answers to any questions or concerns you have about your entitlements at work. It’s like the Yahoo Answers of the workplace, except instead of questions like, “Can I get pregnant from watching The Vampire Diaries?”, they tend more towards, “Do massages count as compensation and, also, how do I recognise sexual harassment?”

What you’ll find on here corresponds directly with your minimum base pay, penalty rates, entitlements under the conditions of your employment, awards that may apply depending on your occupation, information on unlawful dismissal and appropriate ways to quit your job, seeing as we’ve already covered all the inappropriate ways to do that. Most importantly, this site can help determine if you’re eligible for back-pay from the all the time you’ve been getting ripped off, which is an unusual but certainly invigorating discovery, like finding out you’re adopted and your real dad was a flying bear.

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Resist The Urge To Let It Slide Or Back Down

So, despite everything you’ve unearthed, it’s tough to raise those concerns with your employer because you’re not the confrontational type. Look, I get it, I’m the same way; I had to get my mum to break up with my first girlfriend, and she was imaginary. However, it’s always crucial to remember that nothing in this world is worth the indignity of underselling yourself, least of all when it’s only the fear of an awkward conversation preventing you from speaking up. I mean sure, it’s uncomfortable when the old woman who lives in your building keeps mistaking you for her grandson but eventually you’ve gotta nut up, be honest with her and stop cashing those birthday checks.

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Of course, it’s always prudent to anticipate some of what your boss might throw at you to make you doubt your claims:

  • “We have a verbal/written agreement that supersedes your lawful entitlements.”
  • “I can’t afford to pay you more than I already am.”
  • “You’re welcome to find another job that pays better/you’re fired for even asking.”

Much like the guy at the bar who swears his dad was a flying bear, this is all utter bull and not even particularly creative at that, considering it can all be refuted easily with a quick online search. Seriously, do not let yourself be intimidated by false information.

Worst Case Scenario, There Are People Who Can Help You

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If ultimately, despite your best efforts, you find your employer is unreceptive or openly dismissive of your concerns, your final and best option is to contact an Ombudsman on the Fair Work website above, or call 13 13 94 during the week between 8am – 5:30pm to get advice relevant to your predicament. Also, if the word “Ombudsman” kinda takes you aback, all you need to know is they’re the real-world equivalent of Gandalf: funny name that sounds like a Swedish sex position, perhaps, but wise, worldly and always, no mater what, there for you in the darkest of times.

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