Towns in New South Wales will be targeted in the biggest ever wage theft compliance campaign by the workplace watchdog.
Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors will audit at least 200 businesses across outer western Sydney, the Blue Mountains and also Wollondilly.
The regulator said the action comes as a result of multiple anonymous wage theft complaints from the region.
Wage theft campaign targets NSW towns
According to Fair Work, Wollondilly accounts for the highest rate of anonymous reports of wage theft, and second highest for requests for assistance.
The Wollondilly Shire, on the south-western fringe of Sydney, comprises several small towns and villages with farms and gorges.
Other areas to be targeted by Fair Work include Penrith and Springwood, in addition to Picton and Katoomba.
The audits will target a range of industries – for example, construction, manufacturing and accommodation. Inspectors will also visit retail and hospitality businesses.
They will check wage and time records, in addition to ensuring businesses are in compliance with pay slip and other workplace laws.
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A drop in the ocean
Meanwhile, industrial advocate Miles Heffernan welcomed the proactive action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
“These campaigns play a role in combating the scourge of wage theft,” he said.
“But they also highlight the impossible task Fair Work has in policing the problem.”
Mr Heffernan said with more than 800,000 businesses employing people around Australia, an audit targeting just 200 is “a drop in the ocean”.
“Wage theft is rampant in many industries in Australia,” he said.
“Until governments impose criminal penalties on employers who do the wrong thing, we will see it continue at the high rate that it currently happens.”
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