Businesses rorting pay still at it on second audit
Almost 40 per cent of businesses caught breaking workplace laws, including underpaying employees, were still doing it when they were re-audited by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
A new national audit released by the agency yesterday reveals only two of the 184 businesses still breaching the Fair Work Act were prosecuted.
When the ombudsman reaudited 479 business that had previously broken workplace laws, 38 per cent were still not meeting their legal obligations.
Of the businesses that remained non-compliant, the agency recovered $244,246 from 98 employers for 347 workers.
It issued 82 per cent with infringement notices, compliance notices and formal cautions.
It entered into a compliance partnership with Chemist Warehouse after 5976 workers were underpaid $3.56 million, and struck an enforceable undertaking with Melbourne fast-food business Xin Long following underpayments and recordkeeping breaches.
Two Adelaide nail salons were taken to court for serious breaches, resulting in $130,000 in penalties against House of Polish and a $10,560 penalty against the former owner of Citi Nails.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said 62 per cent of re-audited businesses were now complying, reflecting the “effectiveness of the agency’s compliance and education activities”.
“A majority of employers operating in industries susceptible to higher levels of noncompliance have been responsive to FWO intervention strategies,’’ the agency’s report says.
The ACTU said the report “barely scratches the surface of wage theft”.
Unions highlighted how one prosecution started six years after the agency first became aware of the employer’s behaviour, in 2012.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said there were about 200 agency inspectors charged with enforcing workplace laws for more than 12 million workers.
She said: “Putting worker reps back on the wage theft beat would significantly increase the number of people stopping wage theft at no cost to the taxpayer.”
Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the report “exposes the extent of the failure of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government to deal with systemic issues of underpayment of workers and other breaches”.