The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has put the healthcare industry on notice saying that even though compliance rates are improving, there is still cause for concern. It comes as the FWO recovered more than $109,295 unpaid wages from 696 audits across the medical services, allied health services and residential care services sectors. Businesses included GPs, physiotherapy services, dental services, and retirement villages.
Of the businesses audited, inspectors found that 25 per cent were not paying their staff correctly and 14 per cent were not compliant with record keeping and payslip requirements. The FWO issued 16 infringement notices, 12 formal cautions and one compliance notice to those non-compliant businesses.
Employsure’s Senior Workplace Adviser Andrew Spiteri says pay rates, entitlements, record keeping and pay slip requirements are common challenges for employers in the industry: “We advise over 900 businesses in the healthcare and medical industry every year. The common challenge is knowing the right wages to pay employees when they work outside of the ordinary working hours detailed in the relevant Award.”
As the largest employing industry in Australia with more than 1.5 million workers, the healthcare and social assistance industry is characterised by a large number of small businesses and high levels of part time, low skilled, female, and migrant workers.
“Healthcare and medical businesses must be aware of their obligations in terms of ensuring their employees are receiving the correct entitlements and keeping accurate records – the industry is highly regulated and scrutinised,” Andrew said.
Work-related mental health in the industry is also highly prevalent, with health and welfare support workers the third most likely industry to be affected. According to Safe Work Australia, the healthcare and social assistance industry accounts for an average of 362 claims per week with 29 per cent of claims relating to back injuries and a high number of mental disorder claims. Andrew added that this is expected: “due to the nature of work and exposure to workplace or occupational violence.”
With maximum penalties for serious contraventions of workplace laws recently increasing ten-fold, and penalties for record-keeping breaches doubling, businesses that breach the law are exposing themselves to fines.
“Non-compliant businesses may find themselves at risk of on-the-spot fines, back‑payments and, in the most serious cases court action.”
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