Fair Work Ombudsman reports on compliance campaigns

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Fair Work Ombudsman reports on compliance campaigns

Random audit finds 54% of northern Vic employers not compliant; Results of Kalgoorlie — Esperance targeted campaign; Melbourne factory workers gain access to over $500,000 back-pay.

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Random audit finds 54% of northern Vic employers not compliant; Results of Kalgoorlie — Esperance targeted campaign; Melbourne factory workers gain access to over $500,000 back-pay.
 
Random audit finds 54% of northern Vic employers not compliant
 
More than one-half of the employers randomly audited in northern Victoria recently were found to have failed to comply with federal workplace laws.
 
The Fair Work Ombudsman has released its report on a time-and-wages/record keeping campaign conducted in the area over two days earlier this year.
 
Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell said 54% of employers recorded contraventions — suggesting the need for small, regional employers to seek advice and assistance to improve levels of awareness and compliance.
 
‘We are here to help, both in terms of providing information and practical tools and resources on our website, as well as responding to employers with questions to our Fair Work Infoline,’ he said. 
 
Retail and hospitality
 
Earlier this year, Fair Work inspectors doorknocked business houses in Tongala, Goornong, Echuca, Elmore, Rochester, Coolamon, Kyabram, Rushworth and Tatura to speak with employers and provide educative materials. They audited 26 businesses, mainly in the retail and hospitality industries.
 
Campbell said 12, or 46%, were fully compliant with workplace relations laws, while 14, or 54%, recorded contraventions relating to record-keeping and payslips.
 
‘Four employers were also found to have underpaid 22 of their staff a total of $8731,’ he said.
 
A Rushworth business underpaid seven employees $3694, an Echuca business underpaid seven employees $2724, a Rochester business underpaid seven employees $2198 and a Kyabram business underpaid one employee $115.
 
Underpayments
 
The underpayments resulted from employers failing to pay minimum hourly rates, overtime and weekend penalty rates, allowances and annual leave entitlements.
 
Campbell said all employers cooperated with inspectors and voluntarily back paid the money they owed.
 
‘Inspectors have assisted all businesses to put processes in place to ensure these breaches do not occur again in the future,’ he said.
 
 
Results of Kalgoorlie — Esperance targeted campaign
 
More than 80% of employers in Kalgoorlie and Esperance are complying with federal workplace laws, a Fair Work Ombudsman campaign has found.
 
Fair Work inspectors randomly audited 22 businesses in the region over three months, mainly in the retail, engineering, hospitality and mining industries.
 
Eighteen (82%) of those were fully compliant with workplace relations laws, while four (18%) recorded contraventions.
 
One Kalgoorlie business was asked to back pay 16 workers a total of $3188 because it had been underpaying the minimum hourly rate.
 
Inspectors also identified three businesses with contraventions relating to record-keeping or payslip requirements.
 
Fair Work Ombudsman WA Director Leigh Quealy says it is pleasing that all employers with contraventions cooperated with inspectors and voluntarily rectified their non-compliance issues.
 
‘Inspectors assisted employers to put processes in place to ensure these breaches do not occur in the future,’ he said.
 
Mr Quealy said the Kalgoorlie–Esperance audits were part of a state-wide campaign aimed at educating West Australian employers about their workplace rights and obligations.
 
The Fair Work Ombudsman has a number of tools on its website to assist employees and employers to check minimum rates of pay, including PayCheck, Payroll Check and a Pay Rate Calculator.
 
There are also templates for time-and-wages sheets, payslips and other types of employment records.
 
Small to medium-sized businesses without human resources staff can also ensure they are better equipped when hiring, managing and dismissing employees, by using free template employment documentation with step-by-step instructions or accessing a series of Best Practice Guides.
 
 
Melbourne factory workers gain access to over $500,000 back-pay
 
Meanwhile, 45 workers who lost their jobs when a Melbourne factory closed earlier this year can now apply to the Federal Government for over $500,000 back-pay following Fair Work Ombudsman support for a legal bid to force the employer into liquidation.
 
The workers were employed by Jaido Pty Ltd, which traded as Scallywags Socks, before the company closed its Heidelberg West factory in May.
 
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigated the company after the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia lodged a complaint about unpaid superannuation contributions.
 
Fair Work inspectors discovered Jaido had allegedly failed to pay out $537,000 in termination entitlements and $54,000 in superannuation to 45 employees dismissed when the factory closed.
 
Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says it became clear that there was a high risk the employees would receive only a small amount of their entitlements.
 
Following an application in the Victorian Supreme Court by a company creditor, the Fair Work Ombudsman — for the first time — made legal submissions supporting Jaido being placed into liquidation.
 
Mr Campbell says the Agency took this approach to ensure the employees were eligible to seek their termination entitlements through the Commonwealth General Employee Entitlement and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS).
 
After hearing all submissions, including those of the Fair Work Ombudsman, Associate Justice Simon Gardiner ordered the company into liquidation.
 
Mr Campbell says the decision is heartening for the employees, one of whom had been working for the company for more than 36 years.
 
‘Without this outcome, there was a real risk the employees would have been left high-and-dry — but we are confident they will now receive most, if not all, of the money owing to them,’ he said.
 
Mr Campbell says it was important for the Fair Work Ombudsman to act quickly because workers are only eligible for GEERS assistance when their employer goes into liquidation within six months of them losing their jobs.
 
While it is the first time the Fair Work Ombudsman has made legal submissions supporting a company being wound up, Mr Campbell says the Agency will consider making similar submissions in the future if necessary to protect employee entitlements.
 
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