New Fair Work Campaign Targets 1000 Businesses In Hotspots

The Fair Work Ombudsman has started auditing 1000 businesses across Australia, as part of a new campaign targeting known hotspots.

The audits will focus on the fast food, restaurant, café, retail, security and manufacturing sectors. Businesses within service networks and part of labour supply chains will also be audited.

Fair Work Inspectors

Fair Work Inspectors will check workplace basics to ensure employers are meeting their obligations to pay workers correctly. As well as their obligations to follow record-keeping and pay-slip laws.

Inspectors will also be checking the time and wage records of businesses, with a focus given to sectors where large numbers of vulnerable workers, such as casuals, migrants and students, are employed.

The Fair Work Ombudsman will also be seeking to ensure that employers are aware of the significantly higher penalties non-compliant businesses face under law changes passed last year to protect vulnerable workers, particularly those that relate to record-keeping.

The Fair Work Ombudsman says successive campaigns conducted by the Fair Work Ombudsman are finding that too many businesses were getting the basics wrong.

Failures to pay correct base hourly, penalty and overtime rates and inadequate or non-existent record-keeping and pay-slips are some of the breaches we consistently see from employers. If a business cannot get the basic requirements right, then there's going to be a whole host of problems down the track for the workers and also the employer.

Increased Penalties

Changes made by the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 mean companies involved in serious contraventions now face penalties of up to $630,000 per contravention. The maximum penalties for individuals are now $126,000 per contravention.

The Act also doubled the maximum penalty for failing to keep employee records or issue pay slips to $63,000 for a company and $12,600 for an individual, and tripled the maximum penalty for knowingly making or keeping false or misleading employee records to $12,600 for an individual.

A reverse onus of proof can also now apply, meaning that employers who don't meet record-keeping or pay slip obligations and can't give a reasonable excuse will need to disprove allegations of underpayments made in a court.

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