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FWO announces 2022-2023 priorities

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has announced its strategic priorities for 2022-2023.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker has announced the regulator’s strategic priorities for the year ahead will include the universities sector, while a key focus remains supporting workers and businesses as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Ms Parker said the universities sector was a new compliance and enforcement priority after regular self-reports from universities of significant underpayments, including to casual workers.

“We are concerned about the allegations of long-running underpayments in many universities, with our current investigations finding trends of poor governance and management oversight, and a lack of centralised human resources functions and investment in payroll and time-recording systems. We expect to be taking high-level enforcement action against a number of universities this year, and urge all to prioritise their compliance,” Ms Parker said.

Fast food, restaurants and cafes and agriculture will be the key industries of focus in 2022-23.

“The FWO continues to find high levels of non-compliance in the fast food, restaurants and café sector, with many requests for assistance coming from vulnerable workers. That is why we will continue to undertake proactive investigations in metropolitan food precincts across the year,” Ms Parker said.

“The agriculture sector is a priority given its reliance on visa holders, who can be at greater risk of exploitation, and its often complex labour supply chains. The Fair Work Ombudsman will also be playing a key role in both education and enforcement of the recent Horticulture Award changes.”

Ms Parker said that investigating large corporate underpayments remained a priority for the regulator.

“We are currently investigating about 50 large corporates that have self-reported non-compliance. Since mid-2021, we have commenced court actions against Woolworths Group, Commonwealth Bank and Coles which are ongoing, and we expect to take further high-level enforcement action against a range of large corporates this year,” Ms Parker said.

Compliance and enforcement activities will continue throughout the year in contract cleaning and through our sham contracting unit.

“We will continue to enforce wage laws to ensure vulnerable workers, including visa holders and young workers, are protected, while helping both employers and workers with free advice,” Ms Parker said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s 2022-23 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities are available here.  

At Bare Bones Consulting, we’re committed to providing you a pathway to identify what obligations apply to your business so you avoid expensive fines and legal fees. A smart place to start? Check out our HR compliance and risk management page.

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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.