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A Western Sydney homewares retailer has been ordered to backpay a worker over $30,000 after it was caught paying an employee just $12 an hour.

Joyce Homeware underpaid the employee a total of $36,459 between November 2013 and August 2015. Joyce Homeware had an outlet at Mt Druitt and Westfield Liverpool shopping centre. The underpayments occurred at the Liverpool outlet which has since closed.

Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors investigated last year after the worker, who was in Australia on a subclass 309 partner visa and aged in her 30s, lodged a request for assistance.

Inspectors found the worker, a shop assistant employed on a casual basis, had been paid flat rates of $12 to $12.50 for all hours worked.

However, under the General Retail Industry Award, she was entitled to hourly rates of up to $23.74 for ordinary hours, up to $37.98 on weekends and $52.22 on public holidays.

The Fair Work Ombudsman issued a warning to employers: “Minimum wage rates apply to everyone in Australia” … “I want to make it clear that the lawful obligations to pay minimum wage rates, keep appropriate employment records and issue pay slips apply to all employers in Australia are not negotiable”.