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Fair Work Ombudsman to conduct spot checks on over 500 businesses

September 24, 2015


In mid-September, the Fair Work Ombudsman announced that it will audit more than 500 randomly selected businesses in Adelaide, Perth and the Dandenong region of Victoria.

What is the purpose of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s audits?

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, one of the aims of the campaign is to ensure employers are aware of their workplace responsibilities. In addition, the agency will let them know how it can assist them to access the information and resources they need in order to become compliant.

The campaign has two key objectives. First, the Fair Work inspectors will check that workers are being paid correctly. Second, they will help employers understand their obligations. This means that inspectors will make face-to-face visits to dozens of businesses so they assist employers to rectify any non-compliance issues and put processes in place to ensure they get it right in the future.

What kind of businesses will the Fair Work Ombudsman target?

In Adelaide, the Fair Work Ombudsman will target 125 businesses in Adelaide’s CBD and North Adelaide. The campaign will focus on a range of businesses including cafes, restaurants, pubs, taverns, bars and security services. At legal service and superannuation businesses, the inspectors will check that clerical workers are being paid their minimum entitlements.

In Perth, the Fair Work Ombudsman will be concentrating on 150 businesses in and around Kwinana, Rockingham and Armadale with special focus on hair and beauty, real estate, electrical services, carpentry, road freight transport, engineering and hospitality.

In the Dandenong region, the Fair Work Ombudsman will audit 250 businesses in and around Dandenong, Dandenong South and Springvale. In this case, the focus will be road freight transport, building and industrial cleaning, carpentry, takeaway food, cafes and restaurants.

Why have these areas been selected by the Fair Work Ombudsman?

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Natalie James, these areas are home to thousands of businesses and a persistent source of requests for assistance from workers.

What will the audit involve?

During the course of the audit, Fair Work inspectors will check that employers are paying the correct:

  • minimum hourly rates
  • penalty rates
  • allowances.

They will also monitor compliance with record-keeping and pay-slip obligations. In addition, they will check whether employers are providing correct meal breaks.

What will happen if you are not complying with the modern awards?

If you are running a business, there is little doubt that you need to ensure that you are paying your employees the minimum wage under the relevant modern award (including any applicable allowances, loadings or penalties).

It is no use claiming, ‘I’m sorry but didn’t know’, when the Fair Work inspector knocks on your door.

Each year, the Fair Work Commission reviews the national minimum wage and pay rates under the awards. Any changes that are made begin on the first full pay period on or after 1 July. You need to make sure you are complying with any changes.

It is worth noting that, in recent months, the Fair Work Ombudsman has been focusing on underpayment issues within small to medium-size businesses in Australia.

What are some examples?

In Queensland, a retail business was fined $21,000 for underpaying an overseas worker and for refusing to cooperate with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Federal Circuit Court imposed a $6,970 penalty against a store owner who failed to pay a young visa holder his minimum wages, casual loadings and penalty rates. The Court ordered that the fine be paid to the former employee.

In Hobart, four workers at a café have been back paid almost $20,000 following recent intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman. The owner of the business claimed he was unaware of minimum wage rates applicable to his workplace.  He was asked to sign an Enforceable Undertaking committing to future compliance in order to encourage behavioural change.

There is also no doubt that it is important to pay attention to the details when managing your employees. The operators of an Adelaide business were recently fined a total of $6,460 after failing to pay an $850 on-the-spot fine for not issuing pay-slips to two overseas workers.

Are you aware of your workplace responsibilities? Are you sure your business is compliant with the modern awards? Are you looking for a workplace management that ensures you are compliant? HR Assured offers a complete workplace relations solution that ensures your business is not only compliant but best-practice. Would you like to find out more? Call us on 02 9083 0083.