Fair Work has found Launceston food precincts rife with wage theft, recovering more than $121,000 in stolen wages for workers.
The workplace watchdog found 77 percent of businesses breached workplace laws.
Launceston food precincts rife with wage theft
Fair Work inspectors audited 31 businesses across nine suburbs and also nearby towns in and around Launceston.
The regulator targeted “at-risk” businesses. For example, those that had history of non-compliance, or had been the subject of anonymous wage theft tip-offs, in addition to those who employed vulnerable visa holders.
Of the 24 businesses found to be in breach, 23 had underpaid their workers while seven had failed to meet pay slip and record-keeping requirements.
The most common breaches included:
- failure to pay penalty rates (19 businesses);
- followed by underpayment of the minimum hourly rate of pay (18 businesses); and also
- the failure to pay correct leave allowances (seven businesses).
In total, Fair Work recovered $121,574 in wages for 144 underpaid workers.
The largest recovery from one business totaled $39,432 for 26 employees.
The employer underpaid minimum wages and overtime, in addition to late night, weekend and public holiday penalties.
In response to the breaches, Fair Work issued:
- Compliance Notices to 22 businesses, recovering $117,199 for 142 workers; and
- Seven Infringement Notices issued for pay slip and record-keeping breaches, resulting in $9,988 paid in fines.
Meanwhile, the regulator is continuing to investigate two businesses.
It also warned non-compliant businesses that future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement action.
High levels of non-compliance ‘disappointing’
Meanwhile, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the Launceston audits form part of a national program.
Food precincts in all capital cities, in addition to the Gold Coast, have also been targeted.
“Uncovering high levels of non-compliance in Launceston’s fast food, restaurant and café sector, as the FWO has nationwide, is disappointing,” Ms Parker said.
“Employers can’t pick and choose which wage laws they follow and those doing the wrong thing are being found out.”
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