The Fair Work Ombudsman recovered more than $300,000 in back payments and over $30,000 in fines after it conducted an audit of businesses trendy areas in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane.
Targeting businesses “popular cheap eat districts” of Newtown in Sydney, Northbridge in Perth, and various inner-city streets in Melbourne (e.g. Sydney Road and Lygon Street) and Adelaide (e.g. Rundle Street and The Parade), in a press release issued late last week the FWO says it found a non-compliance rate of 75% in its blitz.
On top of finding some businesses failing to pay the minimum hourly rate and penalty, the FWO also found some businesses failed to provide proper pay slips.
With the FWO stating earlier in 2019 that one of its priorities for the 2019/20 financial year would be the café, restaurant and fast food sector, this year so far has seen many big brands face underpayment scrutiny.
George Calombaris’ MAdE Establishment, Neil Perry’s Rockpool Establishment, Top Juice, a franchisor of Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break, and franchises of Crust Pizza, Coffee Club and Subway, amongst others, have all found themselves in the media’s underpayment scandal spotlight so far this year.
The Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, voiced her disappointment at again reporting widespread non-compliance and put businesses on notice.
“It is disappointing that we uncovered such large amounts of underpayments in popular food districts across Australia, with some of the community’s most vulnerable workers underpaid, but unfortunately it’s not surprising,” Ms Parker said.
“Many of the breaches we saw resulted from businesses not understanding their lawful obligations to their workers. This is no excuse for underpaying employees, so I’d suggest that employers invest in workplace law compliance before we come knocking.
“Reducing worker exploitation in the fast food, restaurant and cafe sectors is a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman. We’re working hard to change the culture of underpayment across this sector and businesses are firmly on notice.”
The Fair Work Ombudsman also announced that it is in the process of inspecting businesses, in a similar manner to this blitz, in inner-city Hobart in the coming weeks.