Earlier this year, Fair Work launched a crack down campaign on employers who breach their employer obligations, such as failing to pay the correct base hourly penalty rates combined with inadequate or non-existent record-keeping.
Auditing of selected businesses across Australia commenced several months ago, with Fair Work inspectors checking time and wage records, with a focus given to sectors where large numbers of vulnerable workers are employed, such as casuals, migrants and students.
A new announcement this week warned NSW businesses that the Fair Work Ombudsman is coming, targeting regional hotspots of non-compliance across outer west Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Wollondilly.
At least 200 businesses will be audited to ensure employers are meeting the workplace laws and requirements. The audits will cover a cross-section of industries where young workers are particularly vulnerable to underpayment and poor working conditions. Such industries include but are not limited to construction, retail, manufacturing, accommodation and food services.
While inspectors will be educating employers with advice, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says “Businesses should be warned that non-compliance can lead to action ranging from formal cautions to on-the-spot fines to litigation for the most serious breaches.”
Does your business comply with workplace legislation?
As a manager or business operator, it is crucial that you are aware of your obligations – the potential penalties for such infringements have never been higher.
Changes made by the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 mean companies involved in serious contraventions now face penalties of up to $630,000 per contravention. The maximum penalties for individuals are now $126,000 per contravention.
The Act also doubled the maximum penalty for failing to keep employee records or issue pay slips to $63,000 for a company and $12,600 for an individual, and tripled the maximum penalty for knowingly making or keeping false or misleading employee records to $12,600 for an individual.
A reverse onus of proof can also now apply, meaning that employers who don’t meet record-keeping or pay slip obligations and can’t give a reasonable excuse will need to disprove allegations of underpayments made in a court.
All employers need to ensure that they are complying with all relevant workplace legislation to avoid the potential risks. WorkPlacePLUS has a specialised HR team that can support employers to meet their workplace obligations. For more information, please contact us today.