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Real Stories

At the Young Workers Centre we've assisted apprentices through numerous workplace issues including wage theft, unfair dismissal, workplace injuries, occupational health and safety concerns, bullying, harassment and discrimination. 

Here are some real-life apprentice experiences:
All apprentice names have been changed to protect their privacy. 

Leah is a 26-year-old electrical apprentice. At work, Leah was bullied and harassed by her supervisor and her co-workers. On one instance, Leah’s supervisor yelled at her that she wasn’t setting up properly and told her to leave the site and not come back. So, Leah packed up her tools and left the site.  

Leah was later contacted by her Apprenticeship Provider and was told that the employer had cancelled her training contract without notice. Leah’s employer had also failed to pay her correct wages, and superannuation. Her TAFE fees and the payment Leah should have received for her employment contract being terminated without notice also remained unpaid.  

Leah contacted the Young Workers Centre and was assisted in submitting an application for unfair dismissal. Leah was supported in sending her employer a letter of demand for her unpaid wages, TAFE fees and superannuation. Leah’s case was resolved, and Leah was paid the full amount she was owed.

Steven is a 28-year-old manufacturing apprentice. One day Steven was instructed by his boss to complete a task using instructions that Steven’s boss had given him.  

Steven completed the task using the instructions; however, Steven's boss didn't mention that he should clean-up after finishing the job. Steven was yelled at by his boss and was told that he did the task wrong and that he was fired. 

Steven contacted the Young Workers Centre and was assisted in submitting a claim for unfair dismissal. Steven’s claim was successful, and he was paid a payment of approximately five weeks pay to cover his loss of earnings.  

Gabi is a 24-year-old air conditioning repair apprentice. In the first year of her apprenticeship Gabi experienced significant wage theft. Gabi's normal rate of pay was below the legal minimum wage and Gabi's overtime was underpaid. Gabi's employer also paid Gabi inconsistent annual leave loading, superannuation and entitlements.   

Gabi was also owed $3000 in unpaid TAFE fees that her employer had failed to reimburse her for.  

After contacting The Young Workers Centre, Gabi was assisted to negotiate with her employer and was paid the full amount of her stolen wages, TAFE fees and superannuation.  

Aaron is 19-year-old landscaping apprentice in his second year. Due to a medical issue, Aaron has scars and scabs on his face and arms. At work, Aaron’s boss accused him of using drugs and verbally abused him in front of his co-workers. Following this, Aaron's boss fired him.  

As a result of the abuse, Aaron suffered serious mental health issues and was unable to work for an extended period of time. Aaron’s boss refused to pay Aaron's TAFE fees and even though this payment was the boss's responsibility, debt collectors pursued Aaron directly for the unpaid fees.  

Aaron contacted the Young Workers Centre and was assisted to submit an application to The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission based on the discrimination he experienced. With the help of the Young Workers Centre, Aaron was able to negotiate a compensation payment that reflected the severity of the abuse on Aaron’s mental health.  

Carter is a 21-year-old apprentice baker. Throughout Carter’s four-year apprenticeship they were regularly underpaid for their rostered shifts, overtime work and weekend and public holiday hours. Carter was also expected to work significant overtime, early mornings, late nights, weekends and public holidays and rarely received pay-slips.  

Carter contacted the Young Workers Centre and was assisted to reconstruct their pay-slips, week by week, using old rosters. A letter of demand was sent to Carter’s employer and Carter received the full amount, totaling $14,000, that they were owed. 

Darcy is a 22-year-old baking apprentice based in rural Victoria. At work, Darcy experienced repeated sexual harassment from the head baker including unwelcome suggestive comments, propositioning and verbal abuse.  

After interfering with Darcy’s private property, the head baker hacked into Darcy's phone, obtained private images of Darcy and sent these images to Darcy’s friends, family and partner.  

Darcy suffered serious mental health consequences as a result of this constant harassment and abuse. However, when Darcy reported the abuse to the owner of the bakery, she was told that it was a 'grey area’ and that he couldn't do anything about it. As a result, Darcy and the head baker both received a warning and the head baker continued to harass and abuse Darcy until she resigned.  

After contacting the Young Workers Centre Darcyssisted to submit a successful WorkCover claim and take legal action.  

Evie is a 22-year-old security technician apprentice.  During COVID lockdowns Evie's boss required her to come into her workplace to do her online TAFE training.  

When Evie asked to complete the training from home, Evie's boss said she would be ''abandoning her employment" if she didn't come into the workplace and fired her.  

Evie's TAFE fees were left unpaid. Also, Evie's boss had failed to increase her rate of pay from a first-year apprentices' rate when she began her second year.  

Evie contacted the Young Workers Centre and was assisted to submit an unfair dismissal application. A letter of demand was also sent to Evie's boss for her underpaid wages and TAFE fees.  

Brad is a 19-year-old apprentice painter and decorator. During his apprenticeship Brad's parents became concerned about his working conditions and pay rates. Brad was not paid for public holidays, when he took annual or sick leave or if the employer was not busy, despite being permanent part-time.  

Brad's pay was also irregular, and the employer deducted amounts of Brad's pay without his consultation. Brad did not receive pay-slips and when he did, the pay-slips did not accurately identify the employer.  

When Brad's parents began to question the employer, the employer dismissed Brad. Following his dismissal, the employer left Brad's superannuation payments unpaid.  

Brad contacted the Young Workers Centre and was assisted to apply for a general protections unfair dismissal claim. Brad's case was resolved successfully with Brad receiving a compensation payment and payment for his stolen wages and superannuation.  

Adriana is a 18-year-old carpentry apprentice. In the first year of her apprenticeship Adriana was bullied and physically assaulted at work by two of her supervisors.  

Adriana made a complaint about the abuse, however, Adriana's boss disregarded her report and told Adriana she could be fired without notice.  

Adriana contacted the Young Workers Centre who spoke to Adriana's boss on her behalf. As a result, Adriana and her boss agreed to a mutual termination of employment. Adriana received a compensation payment, a payment in lieu of an employment termination notice and all termination payments.  

Bobby is a 17-year-old bricklaying apprentice. Bobby never received rosters and was often told to come in at the last minute. Bobby's wages were also underpaid, and Bobby never received pay-slips or superannuation. 

At work, Bobby was verbally and physically abused by his co-workers and employer. On one occasion, Bobby was punched in the face and given a blood-nose.  

Bobby was also repeatedly pressured to take drugs on-site by his co-workers and supervisors. One day, Bobby's direct supervisor said he would fire Bobby if he did not take drugs.   

Bobby approached the Young Workers Centre who were able to refer Bobby to the CFMEU. The CFMEU agreed to legally assist Bobby and organise Bobby's workplace to ensure it was safe for Bobby and other workers.  

Gabe, a young electrical apprentice, experienced frequent racial and verbal abuse from his employer. He was also owed thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and superannuation.  

With assistance from The Young Workers Centre Gabe successfully won back over $16,000 in stolen wages and superannuation from his employer. Gabe is now continuing his apprenticeship in a new workplace in which he can feel safe and supported. 

Henry was a fourth year electrician apprentice, working construction with a small employer. His boss proposed changes to his employment contract which were unfair and Henry was afraid he was going to lose his job. He came to YWC for legal advice about the changes to his contract and what would happen if he didn’t agree with them. We gave him the advice, and referred him to his local Apprenticeship Support Office (Apprenticeship Victoria) to assist with finalising his apprenticeship. Henry later contacted us that he was able to finish his apprenticeship without having to agree to the unfair terms.

Chloe was a landscaping apprentice working at a very reputable landscaping business. Chloe realised that she had not been paid her superannuation when she tried to roll over her super accounts. She contacted her Apprenticeship Support Officer (Apprenticeships Victoria) who referred her to YWC to get legal assistance. YWC was able to bring this to her employer’s attention which promptly backpaid her over $2,000 in superannuation.

If you need support with any of the issue raised in these stories or any workplace issue, contact the Young Worker's Centre here.