Aussie hospitality worker docked five hours pay for using mobile phone at work, sparking reaction on Reddit

An Australian hospitality worker has sparked controversy after revealing $300 was taken off their pay for using their mobile phone at work.

Sharing on Reddit, the employee said they discovered five hours’ pay had been deducted when they opened their payslip.

The worker shared an image of the slip to show a “deduction for over five hours on mobile phone during shift (unauthorized)” amounting to $298.65 being taken off their pay.

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In their post, the Reddit user admitted to using their phone, but said it was only when there were no customers present.

“I work in hospitality and I have been deducted five hours of pay for ‘mobile phone use’,” they wrote.

“I single-handedly worked at the place from open to close.

The Reddit user shared an image of their pay slip, showing the deduction. Credit: Reddit

“I used my phone when there were no customers. Is this legal?

The worker went on to say that they’d since quit the place of employment, but were determined to have the money reimbursed.

“I will definitely fight for this $300 is a lot for me,” they added.

The post prompted a huge reaction on Reddit, with hundreds agreeing that it was “illegal” to dock someone’s pay on these grounds.

‘100 percent illegal’

“Absolutely not. They may be able to give you a warning for unauthorized use of your phone during work hours (or reduce your shift in the future) but cannot deduct your pay because of it,” said one.

Another said: “I’m a senior payroll officer. That deduction is 100 percent illegal. Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.”

Many called on the worker to take the matter further, saying “you’re still entitled to that money”.

“Don’t let it go. If you got time have a chat with the fair work commission. It’s not a lot of money, but if they did this to you they are doing it to others,” one responded.

Another said: “It’s $300! From one payslip, that’s a lot of money for some people.

“They cannot deduct anything from your pay without a signed authorization form. They cannot change a time card without your signature either. You need to fight for this if you can.”

File image of someone using a mobile phone. Credit: picture alliance/dpa/picture alliance via Getty I

Some employers argued that it is frustrating to see workers on their phones, but agreed that docking someone’s pay because of it was out of line.

“To be honest, as a manager I would 100 percent call out a staff member if I saw them spending five hours on their phone when they were meant to be working. That would be a written warning easily,” one responded.

“But to deduct hours and pay from you for it, that is hella illegal. Call the Fair Work Ombudsman asap. You are owed that money!

“Especially cowardly that you found out from your payslip, didn’t even have the balls to talk to you about it.”

Another wrote: “It’s perfectly legal to be on your phone during work hours. It may be against company policy.

“But they have to inform you of that policy and issue multiple warnings etc before penalizing you and even then the penalty has to be reasonable – deducting pay is not reasonable.”

A third said: “It doesn’t excuse you being on your phone during work hours.”

Another called out businesses who frown down on employees using personal phones during their shifts.

“Everyone’s saying how illegal it is, but I just want to throw out how absolutely unAustralian it is to give as*** about retail staff d***ing about on their phone if there’s no customers around,” one Reddit user argued.

“We don’t stop being human beings on the clock – if an employer doesn’t see you that way, then they’re not going to care when customers treat you that way.”

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