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Fair Work Ombudsman reveals “widespread non-compliance”

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) said that its investigators have recently found more than $580,000 in underpayments affecting almost 1,000 employees after conducting surprise visits to 1,385 businesses across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

Areas targeted businesses in a wide variety of industries in areas including Latrobe-Gippsland, Shepparton, the Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven, Wide Bay and Ipswich, with particular focus given to retailers and accommodation and hospitality operators.

A disappointing 22 per cent of all audited business were found to pay their employees incorrectly.  In addition to the 22 percent, 15 percent were in breach of non-monetary obligations including;

  • Not providing proper payslips
  • Not keeping proper employment records

6 percent of businesses were found to fail in paying their employees correctly AND meet their non-monetary obligations.

According to the FWO, these underpayments collectively totalled more than $580,000 – or an average of around $600 per affected employee.

The majority of underpayments were attributed to paying under the minimum hourly rate, and below-mandated penalty and overtime rates were also discovered.

Some 27 on-the-spot fines were issued, with penalties totalling 5,960, for breaches of payslip and record-keeping rules. A further 39 cautions were also issued.

The FWO said that compliance rates were broadly similar in each of the locations targeted, which looked like this:

  • 52 per cent of the 262 businesses audited in Shepparton, Victoria
  • 59 per cent of the 364 businesses audited in Latrobe-Gippsland, Victoria
  • 55 per cent of the 338 businesses audited in the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven, NSW
  • 57 per cent of the 212 businesses audited in Ipswich, Queensland
  • 63 per cent of the 209 businesses audited in Wide Bay, Queensland

The FWO reports that these specific areas were targeted as a result of employees contacting the FWO for help.

It was also found that almost half of business audited were simply unaware of their obligations under workplace laws.

The FWO plan to revisit these businesses to ensure that they don’t continue to breach workplace laws as part of a national proactive compliance monitoring program.

The ATO has also unveiled that its next round of site visits targeting up to 1,800 business and their accountants or tax agents, in areas including the Richmond area in Victoria, Maroochydore area in Queensland and the Batchelor, Bees Creek and Adelaide River areas and Katherine and Pine Creek areas in the Northern Territory.

For assistance in determining that you are meeting your obligations, contact us at [email protected] or 1300 720 004.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

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