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Workplace disputes are on the rise – up 9% from previous year

In the 2016/17 financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman resolved nearly 27,000 requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute, a 9 per cent incr
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Workplace disputes are on the rise – up 9% from previous year

Workplace disputes are on the rise – up 9% from previous year

14 November 2017

Workplace disputes are on the rise – up 9% from previous year
In the 2016/17 financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman resolved nearly 27,000 requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute, a 9 per cent increase on the 2015/16 financial year.
 
In 2016–17, the Ombudsman recovered more than $30.6 million in unpaid wages for more than 17 000 workers through requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute and FWO-initiated activities. Of the 26 917 requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute:
 

  • 94% (25 332) were resolved through education and dispute resolution activities in an average of seven days, with more than $16.7 million recovered
 
  • 6% (1585) were resolved through compliance activities in an average of 136 days, with more than $4.6 million recovered. Of this, more than $3.5 million was recovered through use of our statutory enforcement tools.
 
In addition, the Ombudsman conducted 5645 FWO-initiated activities including inquiries and campaign audits in sectors at high risk of non-compliance. These FWO-initiated activities accounted for more than $9.3 million in recoveries, including $4.5 million through use of our statutory enforcement tools.
 
Alarming trend - litigation has yielded a record for total penalties ordered by the Ombudsman (up 66% from previous year)
In 2016-17, the Ombudsman ordered $4,864,925 in penalties to be paid by employers who breached legislation. Compared to the $2,918,643 of 2015-16, we can see an increase of 66%.
 
Franchisors beware – large increase in disputes from migrant workers
Migrant workers make up 6% of the Australian workforce, however 18% of all workplace disputes assisted with involved a visa holder (ie almost one in five disputes). This is a 38% increase in migrant worker disputes from the previous year. In recent case history, migrant workers are typically viewed as ‘vulnerable workers’ by the Ombudsman, leading to the introduction of vulnerable workers legislation.

Anonymous reporting is a huge success for employees – 10,535 tip offs, with over-indexing in hospitality and retail
The Anonymous Report tool enables employees and others to alert the Ombudsman to potential non-compliance without identifying themselves. In 2016–17, they received 10 535 anonymous reports. Half of these reports alleged issues of non-compliance in the hospitality (36%) or retail (14%) industries.
 
Audits more than double the recovery of monies – and reveal 8% decrease in overall compliance
Of businesses audited, the Ombudsman reports an overall compliance rate of 53%, a decrease of 8% when compared with 2015–16. Auditing accounted for 18% of all monies recovered. 4558 audits resulted in the recovery of just under $5.5 million in unpaid wages—up 213% from 2015–16.
 
Pay slip and record keeping contraventions up by 10% – also increasing ‘on-the-spot’ penalties
Infringement notices are on-the-spot penalties for record keeping or pay slip errors. When issuing a notice, the Ombudsman considers the employer’s previous compliance history. In 2016-17, the Ombudsman issued 665 infringement notices, up from 573 in the previous year.
 
For more, view the 2016-17 Annual Report.
 
 

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