Posted July 28, 2014 9:28 am by Tony Hogarth
How would you feel if your boss started docking your pay when you made a mistake, but with the consequence being a dock in your pay? A delay? $10 dock. Show up late? $100 dock. If you were a really bad employee, you might end up owing money at the end of the week. Well this is exactly what was happening at a Subiaco Cafe. Would you still do business with them? Let’s take a closer look.
In the case of the Subiaco Coffee Shop, 4 employees experienced this kind of management and became fed up. Employees had been charged for in-house cooking lessons/demos and had been docked pay for issues like $12 for delivering a cold pizza, or $18.90 for a hair being found in a pizza. In result, they reported their manager to the Fair Work Ombudsman and the story has generated quite a bit of controversy.
This cafe owner has been fined and his actions found to be unlawful. The law states that wage deductions can not be made if an employee has not agreed in writing, and if it is not for their benefit. Deductions can only be made if allowed by a court order, a law, or under an employee award or registered agreement. (read more here. The question is whether the owner’s tactics were fair or not.
In my opinion, the idea of deducting wages is not necessarily unfair, as long as they are reasonable and the guidelines are clearly outlined. The rules and regulations should be communicated and agreed upon beforehand, in a written agreement as required by law, in order to be fairly and uniformly enforced.
Imagine you show up late to work and get docked $100, then your co-worker burns a pizza and gets docked $15. Obviously you should get to work on time but £100? Also, the ambiguity is unfair and in benefit of only the owner. Outside of the legal implications, the problem in Subiaco is a lack of a defined system of consequences coupled with outrageous rates. It is not fair to deduct pay without a standard that applies to everyone and, as always, the punishment must fit the crime. While it may be an effective system when implemented correctly, it is counter-productive when employees cannot trust their employer.
In conclusion, a well-motivated staff results in good public relations and can hence lead to good public opinion about the business. Nobody wants to hear about people being unfairly treated, hence the uproar. Staff members are the first customers; if they are not satisfied with the treatment they are getting from their boss, it will reflect on the business’s front line customer service. With that in mind, it is of the best interest to everyone if a fair and transparent system of expectations and consequences is agreed upon by all parties; be it a compensation plan with deductions for being late, or extra commission made on delivering results. For Subiaco Café customers, whether you want to do business with them remains your choice. Maybe the owner will learn his lesson and this controversy will motivate him to think his management strategy through to benefit the employees, customers and owner.