The boss hits back after an Australian restaurateur docked paying for cell phone use at work, sparking a reaction on Reddit

An Australian pub owner has received death threats since a former casual worker revealed his pay had been cut by $300 for using his cellphone at work.

In a viral post on social media, the Melbourne University student complained he had lost $298.65 in wages working a holiday shift at Birdies Mini Golf and Sports Bar in Melbourne’s Forest Hill.

A note on his payslip, shared online, shows that wages were “taken from mobile phone for more than five hours during shift (unauthorized)”.

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The worker, who has since quit his job at the venue, admitted to using his phone but said it only happened when there were no customers present.

“I work in the hospitality industry and I was deducted five hours from my salary for ‘cell phone usage,'” the bartender claimed on Reddit.

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

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

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

Bar strikes back

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

However, Birdies has since spoken out, saying the worker received several warnings about his “excessive personal cellphone use” before the action was taken.

“I warned him, ‘If you continue like this, I will not pay you for the hours you spend on the phone and doing personal things,'” a representative told News Corp.

“He said, ‘Yeah, OK,’ but it went on.”

The representative said her boss in Sydney called the worker several times on his last day to ask him to put down his phone and claimed he was watching movies and scrolling social media less than 30 minutes into his shift.

“He worked nearly nine hours and I paid him four, which were the hours he wasn’t on his phone,” she told the outlet.

“There’s a big difference between a quick text here and there and sitting down to watch a movie.”

She said the venue has been the target of abuse, including death threats, since becoming the bartender.

‘Is that legal?’

The bartender’s post sparked a heated debate online, with hundreds of users urging him to try and get his money back.

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

“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.

According to Fair Work Australia, “There are limited situations where an employer can make a deduction from an employee’s salary or require an employee to pay money”.

An employer can only deduct an employee’s wages if the employee agrees in writing and this is permissible in the context of his award.

You cannot make a deduction if it is “unreasonable in the light of the circumstances” or if the worker is under 18 and the parent or guardian has not consented.

Birdies said its employee policy, which employees read and sign on their first shift, says wage deductions are possible for inappropriate phone use. has reached out to Birdie’s Mini Golf and Sports Bar for comment.

– With reports by Amy Sinclair

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James Brien

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