The workplace watchdog will ease demands for dodgy bosses to repay their workers as the coronavirus crisis bites businesses.
The Fair Work Ombudsman says it will negotiate with businessses that have underpaid staff.
The aim is to allow them more time to back-pay what they owe to workers if they are under financial stress because of the pandemic.
Workplace watchdog will ease demands to help struggling businesses
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says her agency has switched focus from enforcement to assisting businesses survive COVID-19.
She tells The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age:
“Our expectation is still that those companies pay back their workers.
“But that doesn’t stop them coming to us and saying … we’re really being hit hard by coronavirus.
“We would like to have extra time and we … can negotiate that.
“Again, it depends on the circumstances.”
Call centre services ramped up
Fair Work has ramped up its call centres to help workers and employers work through recent changes to workplace laws.
100 extra staff are receiving two-thirds more calls from people concerned about their rights as the nation’s industrial laws continue to change.
But the agency is no longer conducting surprise audits on businesses to check they are complying with wage rules.
Ms Parker said that felt like a “very long time ago” and while it remained a key issue for her organisation, the health and safety of inspectors must come first.
JobKeeper Payments will lead to rorting
Dodgy bosses are already rorting the JobKeeper payment, including not passing on the full $1,500 wage subsidy to workers.
Fair Work is responsible for investigating workplace complaints, along with other agencies like the ATO.
“It’s all hands on deck, really,” Ms Parker said.
Additionally, Fair Work has been given funding to set up a panel of lawyers to help callers with the greatest need and most complex cases.
The change is significant for the agency, which normally has to tell workers and small businesses faced with complex situations to seek their own legal advice.
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