Wage Theft: Class Action Lawsuit against UniLodge Australia
Working at UniLodge without work experience, I now feel like I was played a bit by HR. I didn’t know I could complain about my rates of pay or the hours.
Taylor Meers – University of Canberra
For students across the country, the opportunity to gather a quick score to work at your student housing is a dream come true. Student housing is a common alternative to high-rent prices skyrocketing in today’s market, leading to a close campus living as the best suitable option for students from abroad. For students who are moving to Melbourne to study at RMIT the option for a rental subsidy at UniLodge, is optimal in our current economic climate. Currently, a scope of UniLodge accommodations are open with the largest only a 300m walk to RMIT, making it the optimal place for oncoming students.
However as of 2018, it is reported that UniLodge has failed to pay employees legal wage requirements in it’s accommodations. As of July 1st 2021, wage theft in the state of Victoria is illegal.
Taylor Meers is a 23 year old former residential advisor and resident of UniLodge who claims she was deliberately underpaid by UniLodge. She recounts that her actual hours worked were well in excess of what she was paid which was approximately $115 per shift. She received no discount on her rental accommodation with Unilodge.
In the last year, UL recorded a profit of $6.7 million, with hired staff from the residents paying rent to live at the accomodation. Adero Law is currently investigating to whether there is a systemic pattern between Canberra and Melbourne employees that could potentially lead to the largest underpayment schemes in the Australian higher education sector.
Taylor’s statement reveals that she was typically rostered for 16 hours a week, but only paid for 3 hours a shift. The responsibilities of an employee would recall anything from first aid, responses to sexual assault, self harm and excessive drinking incidents on top of her studies.
You got very bizarre calls at 2am of incidents you had to attend
Daniel Gock, a former residential advisor on the same campus also admits, “It’s quite an intense role which in retrospect was underpaid”, “We were 18- or 19-year-olds helping other university students our age with issues like mental health incidents”. Daniel also claims that UniLodge paid him a $115 for an 8 hour shift.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports, “Adero Law is preparing to launch a class action on behalf of the students in February and alleges they should have been paid between $200 to $300 more for each overnight shift. It estimates their alleged underpayments range from about $31,000 to $62,000 in line with their length of service.”
This is simply an appalling situation to put students in.
We at Catalyst encourage all students of RMIT who have been affected by a similar situation with UniLodge to visit to register for the class action if you have a statement to make.