Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today urged all employers and employees to check the correct pay rates and entitlements that apply over the Christmas/New Year holiday period and to seek advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman if they need assistance. “As Christmas approaches and businesses stay open for longer it’s important that Australian workers receive the right rates of pay and entitlements,” Mr Shorten said. “Often, the people who work these less family friendly hours are among the lowest paid. In particular, for workers in the retail and hospitality industries penalty rates comprise a significant proportion of their take home pay.” “While many of us are looking forward to a break over Christmas and New Year, we should remember that others work during this period to make our holiday time more enjoyable.” “Penalty rates, additional payments to employees who work on weekends, late at night and on public holidays, have long been a feature of the Australian workplace relations system,” Mr Shorten said. “Penalty rates, public holidays and other entitlements paid at this time of year are compensation for those who work on important religious and community days when others are free to spend time with family and friends.” The Fair Work Ombudsman has updated the public holidays section of its website - www.fairwork.gov.au/publicholidays - with information about penalty rates on public holidays in each State and Territory. “I want to encourage all employers and employees to make sure they understand their rights and entitlements this holiday period,” Mr Shorten said. “The Fair Work Ombudsman is available to assist all workplace parties in getting these things right.” In the last financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman has investigated more than 800 complaints relating to underpayment of public holiday penalty rates and recovered tens of thousands of dollars for hundreds of workers. In one case, $2131 in public holiday pay was recovered for two workers at a Melbourne restaurant who were underpaid on days including Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Anyone seeking assistance can also call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.