Despite the hospitality industry employing only 7 per cent of Australia’s workforce, it accounted for the highest number of disputes (17 per cent) according to Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) 2016-17 data.
The industry also had the highest number of anonymous reports received (36 per cent), the highest number of infringement notices issued (39 per cent) and the highest number of court actions commenced (27 per cent) last year.
Senior Workplace Adviser at Employsure, Josh Vikis says: “Hospitality employers are under a lot of pressure. They’re always on demand and trying to keep their head above water running their business. So, it’s hard to keep across the employment guidelines, legislation, and requirements that they need to be across.”
In 2016–17, the FWO ordered over $4.8 million in financial penalties against non-compliant businesses – up 66 per cent from last year. In addition, the FWO received 10,535 anonymous reports – half of those reports alleged issues of non-compliance in the hospitality (36 per cent) and retail (14 per cent) industries.
“Almost half of Australia’s hospitality workers are aged between 15 and 24 years – a demographic that the FWO considers vulnerable” says Josh.
Record keeping and pay entitlements are common issues particularly for hospitality and retail where shifts and rosters can be irregular and Awards can vary.
“On average, we receive 1,000 calls a month from our hospitality clients on wages and entitlements alone, this shows that there is a desire from business owners to understand their obligations – particularly now because of recent penalty rate changes.”
With an overall FWO compliance rate for the industry of just 48 per cent, “it’s clear there’s a lack of understanding of and compliance with workplace laws throughout hospitality.”
“Most employers want to do the right thing. Most problems arise because of misunderstandings about the application of the law, rather than a blatant disregard for it.”
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