THE state's Workplace Ombudsman's office has recovered $1.
THE state's Workplace Ombudsman's office has recovered $1.6 million for more than 1,300 workers in the retail and hospitality sectors so far this financial year.
In 2007-08 it recovered $2.8 million for 1,877 underpaid workers.
Workplace Ombudsman Western Australian director Leigh Quealy said among the worst cases in 2008-09 was a fast-food franchise in the CBD, which has been forced to pay 33 workers a total of $50,000.
He said his office was considering legal action against the national franchise, which could not be named for legal reasons.
Mr Quealy said the underpayments were among a number of significant discoveries by inspectors. Among other cases, an aviation company was forced to repay 97 employees a total of $87,000, a food processing company in Bunbury underpaid 145 employees a total of $41,800, and a southern suburbs bakery underpaid 13 junior apprentices and retail sales staff $24,000.
"It is important that workers in any business, large or small, realise there is an agency they can turn to, and they can do it confidentially if necessary," Mr Quealy said.
The WA Workplace Ombudsman office is asking 230 take-away outlets to open their books as part of a nation-wide food services campaign.
Mr Quealy said of the 120 employers scrutinised by his inspectors, 48 per cent had breaches - mostly minor - but many relating to the underpayment of staff.
Maximum penalties of $33,000 apply to breaches of the Workplace Relations Act.