A 'helping hand' from the Federal Workplace Ombudsman has ensured two teenage sisters weren't ripped off by a fish-and-chip shop which underpaid them. Their former female boss belatedly agreed to reimburse the 17 and 18-year-olds $2000, after initially refusing to do so. The Workplace Ombudsman assisted the girls to take their case to the Small Claims Tribunal to try to recover underpayments totalling $2600. When they were just 14 and 15, the pair worked for a Croydon fish and chip shop in Melbourne and were paid just $5 an hour for the first month and $7.50 an hour thereafter. They should have received up to $12.51. But when a workplace inspector identified the issue, the former employer said she couldn’t afford to rectify the problem. Workplace Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said his agency helped the sisters prepare a case to take to the Small Claims Tribunal. After rejecting the former employer’s offer of a $20 per month repayment plan, the Melbourne Magistrates Court asked the Workplace Ombudsman to mediate an outcome. The court told the employer her financial position was no defence for underpaying the girls and did not absolve her from her legal responsibilities. Mr Wilson says that after more negotiations, the two sisters accepted an offer of $2000.