TER­RI­TORY busi­nesses that em­ploy ca­su­als may be ran­domly checked as part of a Fair Work Om­buds­man cam­paign tar­geted at en­sur­ing the “ba­sics are right” in the work­place.

The cam­paign is look­ing at 1000 busi­nesses across Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing those in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

A re­verse onus of proof can now ap­ply, mean­ing that em­ploy­ers who don’t meet record­keep­ing or pay slip obli­ga­tions and can’t give a rea­son­able ex­cuse will need to dis­prove al­le­ga­tions of un­der­pay­ments made in a court.

An FWO spokes­woman was un­able to give a break­down on how many Ter­ri­tory busi­nesses could be au­dited but she did say they would in­clude fast food, restau­rants, cafes and re­tail.

“We’re un­able to pro­vide a re­gional break­down at this early stage of the cam­paign,” she said.

“The busi­nesses to be au­dited as part of the FWO’s Work­place Ba­sics cam­paign are ran­domly se­lected from a wide range of in­dus­tries across Aus­tralia.

The in­dus­tries and ar­eas of fo­cus se­lected for the cam­paign have been in­formed by the anal­y­sis of data ob­tained from the Fair Work Om­buds­man’s in­tel­li­gence re­ports.

Ar­eas of fo­cus in­clude, but are not lim­ited to, the fast food, restau­rant and cafe sec­tors; re­tail; se­cu­rity; and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

“There will also be a fo­cus on sec­tors where large num­bers of vul­ner­a­ble work­ers, such as ca­su­als, mi­grants and stu­dents are em­ployed.”

The Work­place Ba­sics cam­paign will see Fair Work in­spec­tors “as­sist busi­nesses” in ac­cess­ing and nav­i­gat­ing the wide range of free re­sources avail­able to help them meet their obli­ga­tions to pay work­ers cor­rectly and fol­low record­keep­ing and pay-slip laws.

The Fair Work Om­buds­man will be seek­ing to en­sure that em­ploy­ers are aware of the sig­nif­i­cantly higher penal­ties non-com­pli­ant busi­nesses face un­der law changes passed last year to pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble work­ers, par­tic­u­larly those that re­late to record keep­ing.

Act­ing Fair Work Om­buds­man Kris­ten Han­nah said suc­ces­sive cam­paigns con­ducted by the Fair Work Om­buds­man are find­ing that too many busi­nesses were get­ting the ba­sics wrong.

“Fail­ures to pay cor­rect base hourly, penalty and over­time rates and in­ad­e­quate or nonex­is­tent record-keep­ing and pay-slips are some of the breaches we con­sis­tently see from em­ploy­ers,” Ms Han­nah said. “If a busi­ness can­not get the ba­sic re­quire­ments right, then there’s go­ing to be a whole host of prob­lems down the track for the work­ers and also the em­ployer.

Changes made by the Fair Work Amend­ment (Pro­tect­ing Vul­ner­a­ble Work­ers) Act 2017 mean com­pa­nies in­volved in se­ri­ous con­tra­ven­tions now face penal­ties of up to $630,000 per con­tra­ven­tion.

The max­i­mum penal­ties for in­di­vid­u­als are now $126,000 per con­tra­ven­tion.

The Act also dou­bled the max­i­mum penalty for fail­ing to keep em­ployee records or is­sue pay slips to $63,000 for a com­pany and $12,600 for an in­di­vid­ual.

Mean­while, max­i­mum penal­ties for for know­ingly mak­ing or keep­ing false or mis­lead­ing em­ployee records to $12,600 for an in­di­vid­ual have been tripled.

The Fair Work Om­buds­man is ran­domly check­ing busi­nesses to make sure they are get­ting the ‘ba­sics right’, es­pe­cially when it comes to ca­sual work­ers

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