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Powers of Fair Work Inspectors

Fair Work Inspectors are government officials appointed by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) to promote and monitor compliance with Australian workplace laws.

A Fair Work Inspector’s role includes:

  • conducting targeted education campaigns
  • conducting compliance audits
  • investigating workplace complaints
  • investigating suspected contraventions of relevant Commonwealth workplace laws and fair work instruments (eg. an award or an industrial agreement)

During a workplace investigation, Fair Work Inspectors are charged with collection and examination of evidence to make decisions about:

  • whether Australian workplace laws apply to the people involved
  • whether the law has been followed
  • if the law hasn’t been followed, what needs to be done to fix it

A Fair Work Inspector may enter premises at any time during working hours, or at any other time the Fair Work Inspector believes is necessary for compliance purposes. Before entering premises, a Fair Work Inspector must show their identity card to the occupier of the premises or their representative.

In entering premises, a Fair Work Inspector must not use force, but does not need permission from the occupier.

A Fair Work Inspector may exercise one or more of the following powers while on the premises:

  • inspect any work, process or object
  • interview anyone (with their consent)
  • require a person to tell them who has or who can access a record or document
  • require the person with access to a record or document to hand it over while the inspector is on the premises or within a specific timeframe
  • inspect and make copies of any record or document kept on the premises (including in hardcopy or accessible from a computer)

Civil penalties under the Fair Work Act 2009 may be sought where an employer or person has:

  • intentionally hindered or obstructed a Fair Work Inspector
  • failed to comply with a Notice to Produce Records or Documents
  • knowingly or recklessly provided false or misleading information or documents to a Fair Work Inspector

Penalties of up to $630 000 (for a company) or $126 000 (for an individual) can apply for not complying with a FWO Notice to provide information, produce documents or attend an interview to answer questions in relation to suspected contraventions of the Fair Work Act.

Find out more about workplace investigations from the FWO here.

Ensuring your business is compliant with your Fair Work Act obligations is vital and penalties for non-compliance can be significant. But where do you start? Give Bare Bones Consulting a call today or shoot us an email through our “Contact Us” page here. We make things simple and our first consultation is free.

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  • Bare Bones Consulting

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.