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Why the FWO audits are a warning to all business owners

UnderpaymentsJune 28, 2018

Why the FWO audits are a warning to all business owners

805 Audits, 786 Unpaid Workers

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has published the results of its compliance and education campaigns in Darwin, Adelaide and the NSW mid-north coast and mid-west. Overall, 805 businesses were audited and more than $507,000 was recovered for 786 underpaid workers.
Key results from the FWO audits reveal that:

Darwin (54 Audits)

  • Twenty-nine businesses audited during the campaign were found to have committed at least one workplace breach.
  • Twenty-five businesses (46 per cent) were not paying their employees correctly, while 16 (30 per cent) were not meeting their record-keeping and pay slip obligations.

Adelaide (125 Audits)

  • Forty-five per cent of businesses to be non-compliant with workplace laws.
  • Checks of businesses’ time and wage records found that 36 (29 per cent) of audited businesses were not paying their employees correctly, while 29 (23 per cent) had breached their record keeping and payslip requirements.

NSW (626 Audits)

  • Inspectors found that almost half (48 per cent) of businesses audited across the NSW mid-north coast and mid-west were not fully complying with Australian workplace laws, identifying a total of 417 individual breaches of the Fair Work Act.
  • Across both regions, the Fair Work Ombudsman issued 19 formal cautions, 15 infringement notices (on-the-spot fines) and 10 compliance notices.

These employers are now left with hefty fines, the responsibility for bringing their operations up to compliance and the negative publicity that follows.

What can other business owners learn from the outcomes of these FWO audits?

Ignorance is no excuse.

In many of these audits, business owners were not deliberately breaching the Fair Work Act. They simply weren’t aware of their obligations. Unfortunately, ignorance doesn’t prevent the FWO from enforcing severe penalties.

As we’ve seen with these latest audits, many workplace breaches occur when employers don’t know their obligations. Furthermore many cases involve a degree of uncertainty or confusion with what their exact requirements are. Even so, it is the responsibility of business owners and employers to be fully up-to-date with all legislation, and ensure that their employees both receive the correct entitlements and that they are treated fairly.

Non-compliance hurts your bottom line… and your image.

The Fair Work Act is strictly enforced and non-compliance is a serious issue. The non-compliant businesses found in this latest round of audits will have to collectively fork out more than $500,000 to its underpaid workers.

Yet, in addition to facing heavy fines, non-compliant businesses can be severely impacted by negative publicity due to the public nature of Government investigations. In many cases, the cost of non-compliance goes far beyond your bottom line.

Help is available.

The Fair Work Act is a complicated and long document which can be difficult to comprehend. Business owners and employers are often confused by the difficult language, which is where trouble arises. Thankfully, deciphering the Fair Work Act and ensuring you are meeting your obligations isn’t something you have to do alone.

We have developed a range of free guides, videos and industry-specific papers to help you navigate the complex world of the Fair Work Act.

If you need more personalised advice about your Fair Work Act obligations, call our 24/7 Employer Advice line on 1300 651 415 to talk to one of our specialists.

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