FWO recovers record figure for underpaid employees

Fair Work Inspectors have recovered more than $40 million for 18,000 underpaid employees during 2018-19, finds the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) latest Annual Report.

This is claimed to be the highest total recoveries figure in the regulator’s history.

In 2018-19, the FWO also says:

  • It resolved more than 29,000 workplace disputes between workers and businesses.
  • There was a record 17.8 million visits to www.fairwork.gov.au to access information.
  • The Fair Work Infoline answered 380,000 calls from workers and employers.
  • It announced its annual compliance and enforcement priorities earlier in the year.
  • It strengthened its compliance and enforcement policy.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says the agency’s achievements show its commitment to promoting harmonious, productive, cooperative and compliant workplace relations.

“I am extremely proud of the agency’s work resolving employment disputes throughout the year, which has helped return wages to workers and kept employment relationships intact,” she said.

“In line with our priorities, we will continue our important work educating employers and employees, targeting high-risk industries, protecting vulnerable workers and improving compliance across Australian workplaces in the year ahead.

“We urge employers to actively check they are paying their staff correctly and access our free resources for help. We will take enforcement action against employers who break the law.”

Court cases

The FWO says it had 67 matters before the courts as of 30 June 2019, in many cases alleging exploitation of vulnerable workers.

Over 80 per cent of new litigations are said to have involved protecting migrant workers, with the FWO securing court penalties of $1.8 million.

The FWO also secured more than $4.4 million in court-ordered penalties. This included a record penalty of $105,000 for a business’s failure to comply with Fair Work Commission Orders.

Other activity

Inspectors, says the FWO, issued $479,900 in on-the-spot fines for pay slip and record-keeping breaches.

Anonymous reports to the FWO increased, with over 16,000 reports received. This included over 1,200 reports made in languages other than English.

Inspectors conducted more than 2,800 workplace audits, says the FWO. This strategically targeted sectors at high risk of non-compliance.

More employees and employers also accessed the agency’s Pay and Conditions Tool. This assists users in calculating pay rates and other entitlements, with 500,000 calculations each month.

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