In Payroll & Employment by Clyde Mooney

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Some of the largest hotel brands in Australia have avoided court action over underpaying cleaning staff.

Four and Five-star hotels Starwood (owner of Sheraton brand), Accor and Oaks Hotels were investigated following more than 7,600 calls from cleaners claiming to be underpaid.

The hotels had engaged contractors, who had in turn sub-contracted the work to international students and backpackers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman launched an investigation, which subsequently found collective underpayment of over $57,000.

The contractors found primarily responsible for breaching pay rates and rules regarding record-keeping were International Hotel Services, Empire Hospitality, Silk Hospitality Services and Challenger Hospitality.

But Natalie James, Fair Work Ombudsman, reiterated that the Fair Work laws held companies responsible for the actions of contractors, and direct responsibility for underpayment was not required.

The hotel chains escaped prosecution, and have engaged in enforceable agreements with the Ombudsman to abide by Australian award conditions.

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