Fair Work News

Fair Work Reveals “Widespread Non-Compliance”

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has issued a statement following a series of audits across Australia. FWO has found that more than $580,000 in underpayments which has affected almost 1,000 employees. FWO has described the findings as “widespread non-compliance” with workplace laws.

FWO investigators carried out surprise audits at 1,385 businesses across Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

The audits looked at a wide range of industries, but it’s reported that FWO specifically looked at retailers, accommodation and hospitality operators.

The FWO states, “Inspectors found 22% of all audited business failed to pay their employees correctly.” In addition, “15% were in breach of non-monetary obligations by not providing proper payslips or keeping proper employment records, and 6% failed to both pay their employees correctly and meet their non-monetary obligations.”

Failing to pay employees correctly was found to include underpaying the minimum hourly rate and overlooking relevant penalty and overtime rates.

Considering that FWO estimates these total underpayments reach around $580,000, that is an average of $600 per affected employee.

FWO issued 27 on-the-spot fines.

“Fair Work inspectors targeted specific regions after employees contacted us for help,” says Ombudsman Sandra Parker. “Many of whom could be vulnerable to workplace exploitation due to their youth or visa status. It is unacceptable that almost half of the businesses we visited were simply unaware of their obligations under workplace laws and were not paying the lawful minimum hourly wage.

“The FWO will revisit these businesses as part of our ongoing national proactive compliance monitoring programs. Appropriate compliance and enforcement action will be used against employers who continue to breach workplace laws.”

As a result of the swoop, FWO is reminding all employers to check their processes. “The Fair Work Ombudsman provides free assistance to employers, so ignorance is never an excuse for under paying your staff,” Parker continues. “This outcome is an important reminder to businesses that they must have robust processes in place to ensure they’re complying with workplace laws. Any employers with concerns should contact us before we conduct a surprise visit to their premises.”

What can businesses expect during a visit?

  • Visits usually take around 30 minutes.
  • Officers will ask questions around record keeping, payment facilities, registrations, outstanding lodgements, tax debts, super annuation.
  • Officers will show business owners how to use ATO tools and answer questions.

Read more about how to protect your business here: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Gen/Protecting-honest-business/

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