7 February 2010
SA fast-food sector targeted for 200 random audits and educational visits
The Fair Work Ombudsman has signalled plans to step up scrutiny of South Australian fast-food and take-away businesses.
It has put major fast-food franchises, fish and chip stores, pizza shops and take-away outlets on notice that they will be subject to random audits.
Inspectors from Adelaide, Mount Gambier and Port Augusta will conduct the face-to-face visits over the next four months.
They are expected to make surprise calls to about 200 employers.
The visits will begin in Adelaide and surrounding suburbs then follow in the regional towns of Victor Harbor, Goolwa, Murray Bridge, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Mt Gambier, Millicent and Robe.
Employers will be asked to open their books to inspectors so they can check if staff are being paid correctly.
The audits will focus on employers’ record-keeping and pay slips to ensure they are complying with their legal obligations.
Fair Work inspectors will also provide information and advice to employers.
Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the visits will help ensure the community understands its rights and obligations in the workplace.
Mr Campbell says the industry has been targeted because of the high number of complaints it is generating.
He says in cases where records are not up to scratch or indicate workers are being underpaid, inspectors may launch a wider investigation.
“Where we find records are not adequate or identify other non-compliance issues, we will provide information and assistance to employers and request they voluntarily rectify any problems,” Mr Campbell said.
“In cases where they don’t, or where we suspect deliberate underpayments or other serious breaches have occurred, we may launch a full audit which could lead to court proceedings.”
The maximum penalty for a breach of workplace law is $33,000.
Mr Campbell says the one-on-one visits aim to ensure South Australian employers understand their obligations to their employees.
“And it is important regional workers along with their city counterparts understand there is an Agency they can turn to if they have workplace concerns. Complaints can be made confidentially and anonymously,” he said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has a range of user-friendly resources that can help employers comply with workplace laws and operate their business according to best practice.
Likewise, there are resources to assist employees understand their rights in the workplace.
In addition to the fast-food audits, the Fair Work Ombudsman will conduct 5000 Transitional Educational Visits (TEVs) during 2010 to assist South Australian small to medium size businesses coming into new national workplace relations system for the first time.
Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au For translations call 13 14 50.
The Fair Work Ombudsman promotes harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces. It also monitors compliance and investigates breaches of national workplace laws.
Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484
Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924