Employers fined $2.1m over workplace breaches

Analysis

Employers fined $2.1m over workplace breaches

Court-ordered penalties over industrial law breaches amounted to more than $2.1m last financial year.

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Court-ordered penalties over industrial law breaches amounted to more than $2.1m last financial year.

The Courts also ordered the return of more than $2m in unpaid wages and entitlements to more than 2400 workers .

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said that since 2006, penalties arising from the Agency’s legal activity have exceeded $7.7m.

‘In 2010–11, the Fair Work Ombudsman initiated 55 litigation matters ― 41 of them over underpayment of wages,’ he said.

Sham contracting

‘Four prosecutions related to sham contracting, two each for agreement making, unlawful industrial action, failure to comply with a notice to produce and discrimination and one each for breach of freedom of association and adverse action.’

Wilson said the FWO generally takes legal action as a ‘last resort’ in a broader compliance system.

Commonly, legal action is initiated where breaches of workplace law have significant consequences, are of significant public interest, relate to a vulnerable community group where or an employer fails to rectify the contravention.

Deterrent

Litigation is also considered as a deterrent to others or where there may be a need for judicial clarification of workplace law.

The Agency also entered into 11 Enforceable Undertakings as an alternative to legal action.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s spent $2.8m on external legal fees last financial year, down 38% on the $4.6m the previous year.

Wilson said the decrease is largely attributable to the significant number of matters now being run in-house.

Decisions arising from the Fair Work Ombudsman’s prosecutions are posted on the website.
 
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