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Fair Work Targets Bundaberg Horticulture Industry With Wage Theft Sting

Fair Work targets Bundaberg horticulture industry with wage theft sting

Fair Work is targeting the Bundaberg horticulture industry with a wage theft sting.

Inspectors will audit 40 businesses in the region, including farms, labour hire contractors and accommodation providers.

The compliance checks come as a result of wage theft complaints from workers in the area.

Fair Work targets Bundaberg horticulture industry

The regulator commenced the operation on Tuesday and involves inspectors checking if businesses are:

  • paying their workers proper wages and entitlements;
  • issuing pay slips; in addition to 
  • keeping accurate records.

Bundaberg horticulture industry high risk for non-compliance

Fair Work says the Wide Bay region is one of the highest risk horticultural regions for non-compliance, including wage theft.

This is as a result of the large number of farms in the area attracting working holiday visa holders.

They are hoping to extend their visa beyond one year as a result of compulsory regional work.

Some of the businesses targeted include ones found to be non-compliant during Fair Work’s Harvest Trail Inquiry last year.

The inquiry found widespread non-compliance with workplace laws across the horticulture industry nationally.

Additionally, the inquiry found investigations in the Wide Bay region uncovered workplace breaches in 74 percent of cases.

As a result, the area is well above the national average of 55 percent.

In addition to checking records, inspectors are interviewing growers, contractors and workers to check staff are receiving proper wages.

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Audits welcomed

Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at welcomed the operation.

“It’s always encouraging to see the regulator responsible for enforcing workplace laws doing some enforcement,” he said.

“In the past, Fair Work spent too much time and money educating dodgy employers, instead of issuing them with penalties or taking them to court.”

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