The Fair Work Ombudsman is once again targeting Brisbane businesses in its latest wage theft blitz.
Restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets will be audited by inspectors to ensure they are paying proper wages and entitlements to staff.
Brisbane businesses in wage theft blitz
The FWO will check 90 businesses across a range of suburbs, including Southbank, Fortitude Valley, Sunnybank and the Brisbane CBD.
The regulator said it is acting following a number of complaints about underpayments in the areas.
It will also target employers who employ vulnerable workers, such as visa holders and students, in addition to those with a track record of non-compliance.
The hospitality industry is rife with wage theft, making up 36 percent of Fair Work’s litigations in 2020-21.
Inspectors will be checking for a range of breaches of workplace laws, for example:
- paying unlawfully low flat rates;
- unpaid hours of work, including overtime;
- unpaid penalty rates;
- late payments;
- false or incorrect records; and also
- failures to provide pay slips.
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A company breaching workplace laws faces a maximum penalty of $33,300 for a Compliance Notice breach in addition to $66,600 for a record-keeping breach.
Meanwhile, individuals face maximum penalties of $6,660 for a Compliance Notice breach and $13,320 for a record-keeping breach.
Wage theft blitz welcomed
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au helps workers recover stolen wages using Queensland’s new wage theft laws.
“I welcome this proactive action by the Fair Work Ombudsman,” he said.
“For too long in the past, the regulator spent too much time and money ‘educating’ dodgy bosses instead of prosecuting them.
“Let’s hope this week’s audit will result in the recovery of any stolen wages for hard working employees.”
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Vulnerable workers ‘ongoing priority’
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said protecting vulnerable workers in addition to improving compliance in the hospitality sector are ongoing priorities for the regulator.
“Visa workers and students can be especially vulnerable and at risk of exploitation as they’re often unfamiliar with Australian workplace laws. We know they’re often reluctant to ask questions about their pay or entitlements or raise concerns with their employer.
“Inspectors in Brisbane are checking employment records for compliance with workplace laws. We will hold employers to account if they are not meeting their obligations in addition to taking enforcement action where appropriate.”
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