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FWO continues to enforce workplace laws

Despite the pandemic, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Media Release page highlights their focus in continuing to enforce workplace laws.

In one example from a takeaway food chain, Fair Work Inspectors made surprise visits to 15 outlets in Melbourne, two in Sydney and two in Perth after the regulator received large numbers of requests for assistance and anonymous reports from workers about potential breaches of workplace laws.

Inspectors interviewed employees, managers and store owners on the ground and checked employment records and pay slips.

The regulator found that all 19 of the audited outlets had underpaid employees, and 15 were not meeting pay slip and record-keeping obligations. The most common breaches found were underpaying penalty rates (33 per cent) and underpaying the minimum hourly rate (13 per cent).

Inspectors reported that the most common reason given by employers for non-compliance was a lack of awareness of all workplace obligations (68 per cent).

In total, $216,847 was recovered for 241 Melbourne workers, $6,879 for 43 Sydney workers and $6,779 for 55 Perth employees. Recoveries from individual businesses ranged from $1,129 for eight employees in a Sydney business to $49,069 for 17 employees in a Melbourne business.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the high rates of non-compliance were unacceptable.

“Inspectors found that…operators had simply not prioritised meeting their lawful obligations to their workers,” Ms Parker said.

“A lack of awareness is not a valid excuse for a business to breach workplace laws. The FWO expects all employers to comply with workplace obligations and they should access our free tools and resources if they need assistance. Any employees with queries about pay should contact us.”

We’ve written about wages underpayments before. And while the coronavirus pandemic and the thought of losing their job might mean employees are less vocal about working conditions, there are other resources available to them.  The FWO offers employees the opportunity to report a workplace concern anonymously through their Anonymous Report Tool. Since the launch of this resource, the regulator has received more than 20,000 tip-offs alleging potential workplace breaches.

When we meet potential clients for the first time, we advise them to prioritise managing their HR risks. One component of smart risk management is to ensure you clarify your Modern Award and National Employment Standards (NES) obligations. Getting this right means any visit from Fair Work Inspectors is likely to start off in your favour. Like to know more? Give Bare Bones Consulting a call or send us your enquiry through our “Contact Us” page. We make things simple.

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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.