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FWO carries out surprise audits recovering over $300,000

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered over $300,000 in wage underpayments following surprise audits in three regions.

  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • June 17, 2019
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The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $331,386 in wages for 725 underpaid workers after conducting surprise audits in Albury-Wodonga, Ballarat and Wollongong.

Fair Work inspectors targeted regions based on the high population of university students and a large number of anonymous reports received from local workers.

Out of the total 489 businesses that were audited, 47 per cent were not compliant with Australian workplace laws.

The FWO revealed that the most common breach identified was businesses not paying their staff correctly, either by underpaying the minimum hourly wage or not paying correct penalty rates. Other breaches included businesses not providing staff with proper pay slips and failing to comply with record-keeping requirements.

Overall compliance rates for the three regions varied, with 59 per cent of businesses in Albury-Wodonga fully compliant with workplace laws; 54 per cent in Ballarat; and 38 per cent in Wollongong.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the findings highlighted that young workers are particularly vulnerable to receiving below minimum wages and conditions. 

“Like many workers in the hospitality industry, young workers in these regions were potentially vulnerable due to their age, visa status and reliance on local jobs to support themselves,” Ms Parker said.

“Australia’s minimum pay rates are not negotiable, and employers in the fast food, restaurant and café sector need to actively check that they are paying their staff correctly before we visit their business."

As a result of the breaches, the FWO issued 35 cautions, 37 on-the-spot fines and nine compliance notices. Wage back payments made by businesses ranged from $7.26 up to $40,434.69.

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