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Canberra Businesses are Failing to Meet their Workplace Obligations Again

The Fair Work Ombudsman found 80 businesses within the ACT region who had not been compliant with workplace laws and conducted follow-up audits.
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Canberra Businesses are Failing to Meet their Workplace Obligations Again

Canberra Businesses are Failing to Meet their Workplace Obligations Again

9 January 2018

This article originally appeared on Fair Work.

Canberra businesses are failing to meet their workplace obligations yet again, following intervention from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Fair Work Ombudsman found 80 businesses within the ACT region who had not been compliant with workplace laws and conducted follow-up audits in order to determine their level of compliance now and if their operations had been rectified.

Sixty percent of businesses (48 businesses) that were re-audited were found to be fully compliant, however 40 percent of businesses (32 businesses) remained non-compliant.

The purpose of the audit was to assess if these businesses were paying their employees correctly in addition to meeting their record-keeping and pay slip obligations.

The audit found:

  • 16 businesses had breaches relating to pay rates;
  • 11 businesses had breaches relating to record-keeping and pay slips; and
  • 5 businesses had breaches relating to pay rates and record-keeping / pay slips.

This campaign was successful in recovering $31,087 on behalf of 120 workers with the Fair Work Ombudsman issuing 17 formal letters of caution, eight infringement notices (on-the-spot fines) and one compliance notice. 

The Ombudsman additionally initiated legal action against two businesses.

One litigation resulted in the operators of the local business and its director being penalised a total of $56,840 as a result of failing to keep employee records or issuing employees their pay slips.

In this matter the Fair Work Ombudsman claimed it was unable to complete a full assessment of whether four young workers were paid correctly due to limited availability of time and wages records.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said she could not overstate the importance of keeping accurate records.

“We treat cases involving record-keeping breaches seriously, especially when our inspectors are obstructed from determining whether employees have received their correct entitlements,” Ms James said.

“While Fair Work inspectors go to great lengths to reconstruct time and wage records in circumstances where the employer has failed to meet their obligations, the sad reality is that sometimes in the absence of accurate records, it is not possible to establish whether a worker has received their lawful pay.

“This is why we take these matters to court and encourage employees to keep a work diary. 

In a separate matter, the second business remains before the court facing allegations that it’s record-keeping was also so sub-standard. Yet again, Fair Work Inspectors were hindered from determining whether workers were receiving minimum rates of pay.

Businesses should note Fair Work inspectors regularly re-visit businesses that have previously been found to be non-compliant with workplace laws.

“We expect full compliance with workplace laws, particularly when we have provided a business with advice on how to rectify any breaches within their operations,” James said.

It is imperative that businesses are aware that there can be a heavy price to pay for breaches of workplace laws – even more so following the recent increase in maximum penalties for record-keeping contraventions.

Are you an employer and unsure if you're paying your employees correctly or have the correct pay slip process in place? 

Call our workplace Relations Expert for Free on our Employer Advice Line on 1300 496 955.

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