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Increases to Fair Work Act penalties

Increases to Fair Work Act penalties are now in effect: to $4.6 million

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is an independent statutory agency created by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The FWO is responsible for promoting compliance with Australian workplace laws, and educating about rights and responsibilities at work.

The FWO can also help to resolve workplace issues. When a matter is identified as serious or is in the public interest, they may choose to investigate. If it is identified a workplace law has been broken, there are a number of things the FWO can do.

In most situations, breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act) involve breaches of civil remedy provisions. This means that someone can be penalised or fined by a court if the court determines that they’ve broken a workplace law. The Fair Work Ombudsman has a range of processes and enforcement options for these kinds of offences, which include workplace investigations, compliance notices, infringement notices, enforceable undertakings and litigation

New maximum penalties that courts can impose for certain contraventions are now in effect. These maximum penalties have increased by five times, to a total of $469,500 per contravention for a company.

For serious contraventions, maximum penalties have also increased by five times to $4,695,000 for a company (previously $939,000). What constitutes a serious contravention under the Fair Work Act has now changed to one done either knowingly or recklessly (it is no longer required to prove a breach was done knowingly and systematically).

These increased maximum penalties do not apply to individuals and small businesses – generally, maximum penalties for these employers are $18,780 per contravention for an individual and $93,900 for a company.

The maximum civil penalties available for non-compliance with a Compliance Notice have doubled for all employers of any size, to a total of $18,780 per contravention for an individual and $93,900 per contravention for a company.

In addition, from no earlier than 1 January 2025, penalties for underpayment-related contraventions by non-small businesses can be three-times the amount of the underpayment if an applicant chooses this method.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is encouraging workplace participants to get educated and compliant with the further changes to workplace laws, or risk facing the new significantly higher penalties. Read more in their Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

You could make time to research the new employment laws yourself. But do you have the time? If the answer is no, we see you have two choices:

  1. Ignore things and hope you don’t get caught out
  2. Find someone with the right HR expertise to assist

Option 1? Good luck and best start saving your money now…you’re going to need it.

Option 2? Bare Bones Consulting. We’ll help get your HR house in order. Simple.

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    Burleigh Town 4220,
  • 07 5576 4693
  • 0401 279 065
  • 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.