The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $190,000 in unpaid wages for regional workers across the country.
Inspectors audited 600 businesses in a number of towns including:
- Broken Hill,
- Roxby Downs,
- Katherine and
to ensure they are complying with workplace laws.
Fair Work targeted the regions as a result of the number of complaints it received from workers about underpayments.
268 regional workers back-paid
Inspectors found more than 60 percent of businesses fully compliant with workplace laws.
Most of the breaches discovered involved underpayments – with businesses failing to pay proper hourly rates.
Underpayments ranged from $36 for a worker in Coober Pedy in South Australia, to $11,946 owed to two workers at a business in Stawell in Victoria.
In total, businesses back-paid 268 workers a total of $191,125 as a result of the audit campaign.
Additionally, inspectors issued
- 45 formal cautions,
- 14 infringement notices (on the spot fines) and
- 9 compliance notices to rectify breaches.
What the Ombudsman says
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah says regional and remote workers are often frightened to complain about underpayments.
“Employees in smaller communities may be reluctant to raise workplace concerns where employment options may be limited.
“All businesses have the same responsibility to comply with their workplace obligations if they choose to employ workers, regardless of location.”
The bottom line
Miles Heffernan from Fair Work Claims welcomed the action by the workplace regulator.
“Fair Work spends a lot of time and money on education, and not enough on enforcement,” he said.
“Audit campaigns like these serve a purpose, and it’s great news that these workers have been paid money they are owed.”
However, Mr Heffernan once again called for wage theft to be made a crime.
“Until we see rogue employers charged and hauled before the courts, and even sent to prison, wage theft will continue to happen in epidemic proportions around the country,” he said.
Please call Fair Work Claims today on
1300 324 748
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