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Underpayments.com.au – Purpose Community Legends 2020

We’re delighted to announce that Underpayments.com.au is the 2020 recipient of the Purpose Community Legends Award.

In previous years, we’ve done this ad-hoc, but for the year that’s in it, we’re formalising the approach.

The PCLA is awarded to an Australian business which has demonstrated courage, transparency and (above all) purpose in pursuing a more equitable society through their efforts. Previously, recipients have received pro-bono work from the Purpose team as the award. This year, we’ve done similar, albeit with a “dollar for dollar” approach taken – for every hour of paid work we do with Underpayments, we donate an hour of our own time. 

How Underpayments.com.au is Changing the Game

Daniel Evans, Founder of Underpayments.com.au, contacted us back in mid 2019 in regard to a venture which sought to create a social enterprise around Australia’s nascent cannabis industry, creating greater opportunities around sustainable agriculture for First Nations people in Oceania.

With a wealth of operational, HR and logistics experience in a large global food services provider, in addition to 7 years in the Royal Navy, Dan’s concept was well thought-out and ambitious. He’d reached out as he was aware of our reputation and successes in this industry, and we had a couple of meetings. Current regulatory issues, however, meant that the project was put on hold for the time being. 

Last June, Dan got in touch with us again. After being stood down as a result of Covid-19, his attention shifted to Underpayments.com.au. The concept was simple: eliminate the systemic wage theft and underpayments of vulnerable workers in Australia.

They would do this by leveraging their extensive HR, auditing & finance experience to:

  1. Provide resolution options for those who’ve been subject to wage theft.
  2. Shine a light on how and why these things happen.
  3. Hold to account those who purposefully or unwittingly benefit from the underpayment of workers.

He needed assistance, and engaged us to work on Brand Identity and design/content/SEO for the website alongside a marketing strategy and launch campaign. The company was self-financed and with a focus on “profit-for-purpose”, meaning that a maximum of 49% profit can be paid as dividends to shareholders, with the other 51% going to the cause.

In this case, the cause relates to advocacy, campaigning, NFP organisations, legal assistance for vulnerable workers and so forth – all with the ultimate aim of ending wage theft in Australia and assisting vulnerable workers.

This was very much aligned with the Purpose Communications view towards social justice and equality.

A More Personal Response To Wage Theft

To move away from “business as usual” and into the realm of the personal, all of us at Purpose have unfortunately experienced how disempowering it is when an employer, a boss or a manager underpays their employee – regardless of whether it was accidental or not.

In one memorable professional experience, I personally witnessed the decline of multi-million dollar international business after it was discovered that workers were being paid below the Award rate. Even when the business remedied the situation, trust had been lost. It was the beginning of the end.

Speaking from personal experience, whether it was working a paper round for the princely sum of £7 a week before the age of 10, stacking shelves for £15 a day by the age of 14, or working the till and stocktaking for cash-in-hand (below minimum wage) at the age of 18, I’ve keenly felt the sharp edge of unequal industrial relations as a result of being a vulnerable worker. Unlike many in my wider family, I was fortunate to have the advantage of receiving second and third level education, which led to an MA scholarship, which in turn eventually enabled me to achieve strong remuneration for my efforts.

Many vulnerable workers across Australia may never develop the confidence which my education granted me, thereby allowing me to emigrate and begin the journey towards working for myself and starting my own business. As such, making Underpayments.com.au the recipient of the Purpose Community Legends Award 2020 gives us the opportunity to give back.

Wage theft and worker exploitation harms all of us – economy, community, society. Let’s work together to make business accountable so that we all may live in a fair society – not just those with enough money or property to do so.

Finally, a big thank you to Pealeaf Studio for the excellent logo design. From the earliest days, a running joke has been “porpoise communications”. It’s a lot of fun to see that brought to life!

If you know somebody who may have been underpaid, check out Underpayments.com.au here – and get in touch with us if you would like to be in the running for next year’s Award.

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