Ombudsman to chase 'unfair' employers

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Ombudsman to chase 'unfair' employers

The Workplace Ombudsman is to divert resources to ensure employers who fail the AWA fairness test pay their workers what they then owe under the relevant award.

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The Workplace Ombudsman is to divert resources to ensure employers who fail the AWA fairness test pay their workers what they then owe under the relevant award.

Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson, told the Australian Financial Review he was planning a program of random audits to make sure such employer offer their workers back pay.

Under the fairness test, AWAs can be rejected if they do not compensate employees for giving up conditions such as penalty rates. This is usually done by way of a higher hourly rate.

Liable for make-up pay

However, if after consultation with the employer the Workplace Authority still 'fails' the AWA, the workers must then revert to the appropriate award. The employer is then liable to make up any payments previously paid which are below the award standard.

For example, if the worker would have earned more in penalty rates for weekend work than was earned at the higher hourly rate, the employer must make up the difference.

Wilson said employers would be given the opportunity to voluntarily comply with the consequences of having their AWA fail the test, but those who did not would be investigated and prosecuted.

Instalments

He said he would allow employers to repay workers in instalments if there was a threat to their financial viability.

Last week Workplace Authority head, Barbara Bennett, said 30,000 AWAs lodged by about 4,000 employers had failed the test.

Labor's IR spokeswoman,, Julia Gillard said the ALP's Fair Work Australia scheme 'will not be required to divert resources in order to focus on the government's troubling media issue of the day'.

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