Compliance checks for 200 businesses in South Australia’s South East region

8 August 2017

At least 200 businesses in and around Mount Gambier, Renmark and Murray Bridge are being audited as part of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s latest education and compliance campaign.

Fair Work Inspectors are checking wage and time records of a cross-section of businesses across the South Australia South East region, including those in the retail trade and accommodation and food services sectors.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said that with a large number of employees engaged in low-skilled work and a tightening of labour market conditions, workers in the region may experience particular vulnerabilities.

"Furthermore, the South Australia South East region has one of the highest rates of disputes lodged by visa holders nationally," Ms James said.

"We know that overseas workers can be vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace due to factors including a lack of awareness about workplace rights and language barriers.

"My agency is undertaking this education and compliance campaign to reinforce to businesses in the region the importance of understanding and complying with their workplace obligations."

Ms James said that over the two financial years from 2014-15 to 2015-16, her agency had recovered more than $320,000 in back-pay for 179 workers in the region.

Local employer groups, unions and councils have been notified of the campaign.

Fair Work Inspectors will provide advice and assistance to non-compliant employers found to have minor issues caused by genuine mistakes.

By educating businesses about their obligations and assisting them to improve their processes, the Fair Work Ombudsman aims to build a culture of compliance in Australian workplaces.

However Ms James emphasised that any examples of serious non-compliance may lead to enforcement action, including litigation.

"Where businesses refuse to cooperate with my agency, or where our inspectors identify instances of serious or deliberate non-compliance, we will ensure that appropriate action is taken to enforce the law," Ms James said.

"Employers must be aware that deliberately flouting workplace laws can result in significant consequences."

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

The Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) provides advice about pay, shift, leave and redundancy entitlements and is available on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website at www.fairwork.gov.au.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s ‘Record My Hours’ smartphone app is aimed at tackling the persistent problem of underpayment of vulnerable young workers by using geofencing technology to provide workers with a record of the time they spend at their workplace. The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

Overseas workers can now anonymously report workplace issues in their own language following the launch of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Anonymous Report function in 16 languages other than English.

Follow Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James on Twitter @NatJamesFWO external-icon.png, the Fair Work Ombudsman @fairwork_gov_au External link icon or find us on Facebook www.facebook.com/fairwork.gov.au External link icon.

Sign up to receive the Fair Work Ombudsman’s media releases direct to your email inbox at www.fairwork.gov.au/mediareleases.

Media inquiries:

Yasmin Daymond, Assistant Director - Media
Mobile: 0421 630 460
yasmin.daymond@fwo.gov.au

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