The Fair Work Ombudsman has been accused of running a ‘foot massage department’ after entering into a number of ‘warm and fuzzy’ agreements with rogue employers who rip off their workers.
The criticism comes after the workplace watchdog has been forced to take legal action against a business that allegedly didn’t bother to comply with one of the ‘warm and fuzzy’ agreements, known as an Enforceable Undertaking, which it signed in May last year.
Business failed to comply with agreement
Instead of taking the company behind Flavours Fruit and Veg based in Melbourne to court after it underpaid its workers and failed to keep proper pay slip and employment records, the Fair Work Ombudsman instead offered the company the chance to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking.
But the company has allegedly failed to live up to its end of the bargain, by not conducting a number of reviews into its previous pay practices that could have uncovered more underpayments.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is now seeking orders to force the company to comply with the agreement.
‘Foot massage department’
“It seems the Fair Work Ombudsman wants to do all it can to avoid taking serious action against recalcitrant employers, and this time it’s bitten them on the backside,” Miles Heffernan from WAGETHEFT.net.au said.
“It’s no wonder wage theft is rampant in this country when the agency charged with enforcing the law spends all its time and money on education programs, and entering into these warm and fuzzy arrangements with businesses who steal from their workers and should be taken to court.
“They’re supposed to be an enforcement body, but instead the Fair Work Ombudsman is running a ‘foot massage department’.
“There is no excuse for wage theft, and employers who are caught doing it should be taken to court and face the full force of the law.”
Company that stole $1.2 million from workers offered agreement
Recently the Fair Work Ombudsman offered an Enforceable Undertaking with foreign currency exchange company UAE Exchange which had stolen $1.2 million in wages from its employees, including making illegal deductions from their pay packets to balance tills at the end of the day’s trade.
“That company should have been hauled before the courts, but instead, the Ombudsman said to them, ‘oh, just pay back what you owe, and everything will be alright’,” Mr Heffernan said.
Ombudsman defends the use of Enforceable Undertakings
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker defended the use of Enforceable Undertakings.
“When a company accepts responsibility for breaching the Fair Work Act and agrees to fix the harm, we can accept a written undertaking outlining their breaches and steps they will take to comply with their workplace obligations,” she said.
“Enforceable Undertakings allow the Fair Work Ombudsman to achieve quick outcomes such as back payments for all affected workers that may not be possible through the litigation process.”
The case against the company behind Flavours Fruit and Veg is due in court in the Federal Circuit Court next month.
If you have not received your proper wages and entitlements, or are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.
Please call our specialist team at WAGETHEFT.net.au on
1300 1 THEFT (1300 184 338)
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