An Australian restaurateur has docked five hours’ pay for using a cellphone at work, sparking a reaction on Reddit

An Australian hospitality worker has sparked controversy after revealing $300 was taken from his salary for using his mobile phone at work.

On Reddit, the employee shared that when he opened his payslip, he found five hours of pay had been deducted.

The worker shared an image of the note to show that a $298.65 “deduction for using cell phone for more than five hours during shift (unauthorized)” had been taken from his salary.

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

“I work in the hospitality industry and have had five hours of wages deducted for ‘cell phone use,'” they wrote.

“I’ve worked single-handedly from open to closed.

The Reddit user shared an image of his payslip showing the deduction. Credit: Reddit

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

The worker went on to say that they have since resigned from the job but are determined to get the money back.

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

The post sparked a huge backlash on Reddit, with hundreds agreeing it was “illegal” to take someone’s salary for these reasons.

“100 percent illegal”

“Absolutely not. They may be able to warn you (or reduce your shift in the future) for unauthorized use of your phone during work hours, but you can’t deduct your pay for it,” one said.

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

Many urged the worker to pursue the matter further, saying, “You are still entitled to this money.”

“Don’t let it go. If you have time, talk to the Fair Work Commission. It’s not a lot of money, but if they did this to you, they do it to others,” one replied.

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

“Without a signed authorization form, they cannot deduct anything from your salary. You also cannot change a stamp card without your signature. You have to fight for it if you can.”

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

Some employers argued that it was frustrating to see workers on their phones, but agreed that it wasn’t common to take someone’s pay.

“To be honest, as a manager, I would 100 percent call an employee if I saw them spending five hours on their phone when they were supposed to be working. A written warning would be easy,” replied one.

“But taking hours and paying you for them, that’s bloody illegal. Call the Fair Work Ombudsman as soon as possible. The money is yours!

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

Another wrote: “It’s perfectly legal to be on the phone during working hours. It may violate company policy.

“But they have to inform you of this policy and issue several warnings etc before they penalize you and even then the punishment has to be reasonable – deducting salaries is not reasonable.”

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

Another called out companies that frown on employees using personal phones during their shifts.

“Everyone says how illegal it is, but I just want to highlight how utterly un-Australian it is to make fun of retail workers fooling around on their phones when there are no customers around,” argued one Reddit user.

“We don’t stop being people — if an employer doesn’t see you that way, then they won’t care if customers treat you that way.”

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James Brien

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