The Fair Work Ombudsman has a secret list of more than 30 companies that have admitted to wage theft.
Incredibly, the regulator wants the names of the offending companies to remain secret because they are yet to be publicly revealed.
Fair Work secret list of companies
Labor senators requested a list of the 70 companies Fair Work is investigating as a result of them self-reporting underpayments.
The regulator subsequently provided the names of 33 of them.
It also provided a second list to a Senate inquiry naming the other companies, however, it requested those names remain secret.
Disclosure will discourage resolution
Fair Work assured the Senate committee that it will make public litigated outcomes or enforceable undertakings.
However, it argued premature disclosure of the companies involved might affect a successful outcome for workers.
“We make this request so as to avoid discouraging resolution of these matters on the best possible terms (for the benefit of employees), and so as to avoid discouraging full co-operation and future self-disclosures from employers at the earliest opportunity.”
Negotiations behind closed doors
Labor Senator Tony Sheldon slammed the request, saying the secrecy is the reason a public inquiry into wage theft is necessary.
“Right now we have a system that leaves an under-resourced Fair Work Ombudsman to negotiate with companies behind closed doors.
“That means no real justice for workers and little scrutiny of employers trying to game the system.”
Companies under investigation
Fair Work is currently investigating a number of major companies following their public admissions of wage theft.
- Commonwealth Bank;
- National Australia Bank;
- Westpac; and also
- Super Retail Group Limited.
No excuse for wage theft
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Fair Work Claims says he is disappointed with the secrecy request.
“Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker previously promised her agency will ‘name and shame’ companies that rip off their workers,” he said.
“Yet here she is, with a list of more than 30 offending companies, and she is protecting their names and reputations.
“I fail to understand how publicly naming these companies will affect her agency’s ability to do its job enforcing workplace laws.”
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Fair Work Claims is a private consultancy and advocacy firm with no affiliation to any government agency, commission or tribunal.