'One stop shop' for federal workplace complaints

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'One stop shop' for federal workplace complaints

The Australian Government’s little known Office of Workplace Services (OWS) is to become a 'one stop shop’ to monitor workplaces and give advice to employees and employers - and the number of workplace inspectors will be increased from 90 to 200.

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The Australian Government’s little known Office of Workplace Services (OWS) is to become a 'one stop shop’ to monitor workplaces and give advice to employees and employers - and the number of workplace inspectors will be increased from 90 to 200.

Under the proposed workplace relations changes the compliance powers of the Office of Employment Advocate will be transferred to the OWS.

Extent of power

This includes the power to enforce: 

  • compliance with the reformed Act;

  • terms and conditions of awards, agreements and AWAs;

  • freedom of association principals; and,

  • functions in relation to agreement making.

Numbers

As well, the OWS will increase the number of workplace inspectors from 90 to 200 who will work as both inspectors and also as advisors to employees and employers on their rights and obligations.

Last year the OWS resolved over 5,100 claims from employees who believed they had not received their minimum terms and conditions. In total, more than $6.43 million in unpaid wages was recovered for OWS clients in 2004/05.

In addition, more than 1,300 employees were audited through targeted compliance campaigns.

Minister's comments

The Minister for Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews, said the OWS will continue its audit program, but in addition its inspectors will also work as advisors to businesses and employees informing them of their options, rights and obligations.

He said it will: 

  • undertake an increased number of targeted education and compliance campaigns to protect the rights of workers and to inform employers of their obligations;

  • promote and advertise its services for employees and employers and continue with its educative services.

Last year the OWS’s WageLine service handled over 550,000 enquiries from employees and employers mainly seeking information on wages and conditions.

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