Thursday, June 20, 2024

FWO recovers over half a billion dollars for workers

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recovered $509 million in unpaid wages and entitlements for more than a quarter of a million workers in 2022-23.

The recoveries sum is the second-largest annual figure in the national regulator’s history.

Acting FWO Kristen Hannah announced the figures in a speech to the Policy-Influence-Reform conference in Canberra earlier this week, and said they were another important achievement.

“The recovery of $509 million in the last financial year is a great result for the workers who have been back paid their withheld wages, and also for the businesses that pay correctly and are no longer at a disadvantage as a result,” Ms Hannah said.

“The latest recoveries mean the FWO has seen more than $1 billion recovered for workers across Australia in the last two years alone.”

More than half of the 2022-23 recoveries – $317 million – came from large corporate and university employers.

“These results occur after the consistent work that our agency has done to create an environment that expects large corporates to prioritise compliance and to report to us when they have got it wrong,” Ms Hannah said.

“The FWO is continuing to use all the powers available to us to enforce compliance, especially where breaches impact vulnerable workers.”

In the last year, the FWO has accepted enforceable undertakings related to back payments of millions of dollars each from companies including David Jones, Politix, Crown Melbourne and Perth, and Suncorp, as well as three separate universities.

The FWO also commenced major litigations against Super Retail Group and four of its subsidiaries, and against two franchisors, 85 Degrees Coffee and Bakers Delight Holdings, alleging both are liable for franchisee breaches of workplace laws.

Ms Hannah said the regulator had also delivered on its important role to educate on workplace laws, including regular changes.

“As a regulator we recognise that prevention is better than cure, so we put a huge amount of effort into our education and advice function to help ensure employers and workers have the latest accurate information they need to be compliant,” she said.

“We highlight that from today [1 August], all national system employees can access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave. That entitlement takes effect for small business today [1 August], after commencing for other employers in February. We have a range of updated information to help.”

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