Caravan Parks Caught Napping

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Many parks have caretaker staff who provide security and look after the users of the park when the day time park staff are not at work. Often this will be at night.  Caretakers can spend a great deal of their time ‘on call’ or on ‘standby’. 

If you do employ caretakers, then you need to make sure they are being paid correctly. There have been a number of examples recently of employees seeking considerable compensation or settlement payments from their employers because they argue that they have been underpaid. This can add up to significant sums. 

For example, if a Caretaker is paid $25 per hour and they are on standby for 8 hours a night for 260 days of the year and they have not been paid for that time, then the amount they may have been underpaid is $52,000. Not only will this affect your profitability, but to add insult to injury you may not have complied with your minimum wage obligations and so your business may be named and shamed publicly, thereby damaging your brand, goodwill and future income.

But the rules surrounding caretaker pay in this area of “on call” or “standby” are complex. You can engage staff on a casual or “as required” basis provided that the minimum shift is 3 hours. Allowances and conditions may apply.

Why does it matter?

If an employee is deemed to be working at any particular time, regardless of whether you have labelled it on call or standby time, then they have a right to be paid at least according to the award.

They may also have not been receiving the correct amount of holiday pay or rest periods.

All of which means that claims for non-payment of wages could be significant and potentially go back many years. And usually such claims will not be covered by any insurance policy.

Your business may also be publicly named and shamed causing damage to your brand and future income.

Many employees may not raise this as an issue until you fall out with them over something else. In which case the employee could look into it and what may have initially been a small issue becomes a much larger one.

To be sure, seek the advice of a employment awards specialist or view the applicable award. For Western Australian caravan parks this summary of the award my be helpful

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