Workplace relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is concerned businesses think they can get away with paying their staff on wages incorrectly.

Following fallout from the Smiths City Employment Court decision, which forced the electronics retailer to back pay its staff for attending meetings before their shifts began, a string of retailers have come under fire for similar pay practices.

More than 1,500 retail staff got in touch with First Union to voice their complaints.

Retailers Briscoe Group, Harvey Norman, Kmart, Noel Leeming, Cotton On Group, The Warehouse, Farmers, Whitcoulls, and supermarkets Countdown and Pak'nSave were said to be incorrectly paying their staff.


Some retailers had already admitted to the incorrect pay practices.

"Employers should look closely at this decision and make sure that their practices are above board. These practices are illegal," Lees-Galloway said.

"We need employers to ensure that they're doing the right thing by their workers.

"I'm concerned that businesses still think they can get away with these sorts of practices of unpaid meetings. I applaud the Labour Inspectorate for taking this case, it demonstrates exactly why we need more Labour Inspectors on the ground to proactively enforce employment law."

Employment lawyer Sherridan Cook told the Herald he believed the Smiths City case would set the standard of future paid work practices.

"This will go beyond the retail sector, and employers will need to look at whether their employees are doing work for them and whether they are being paid for that," Cook said.

"Employees are not necessarily being paid for the non-contact time."

Examples included meetings before work in the retail sector, cafe workers expected to cash up at the end of a shift or a gym class instructor paid for the hour but who gets to work early to set up the class, he said.

Lees-Galloway also said he was concerned incorrect pay practices were more widespread than just retail and the hospitality sector.

"I recall when I was younger in jobs like this that there was an expectation to do work around the edges of the paid working day, it wasn't right then and it's not acceptable.

"When workers are young or not unionised, and don't know their rights, there's pressure to work outside your hours and not speak up."

Government yesterday announced that the Labour Inspectorate would get an $8.8m boost for more inspectors to improve the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's ability to handle complex and demanding employment cases.

The Minister said he was determined to double the number of Labour Inspectors.

"This decision will demonstrate to employers that these practices are not acceptable and, if they are pressuring workers to work outside their paid hours they'll need to change their practices to get in line with the law."