Insulation installers targeted in national audit

16 April 2010

The Fair Work Ombudsman will audit hundreds of home insulation installers to ensure they have paid employees correctly and not engaged in sham contracting.

The Agency has written to more than 7000 businesses that were registered under the Federal home insulation program to alert them to the campaign.

Later this month, Fair Work inspectors will randomly select more than 500 businesses throughout regional and metropolitan areas for audit and request time-and-wages records and other employment documents for January, 2010.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the campaign is in response to many underpayment complaints from workers and concerns raised by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union about potential underpayments and workers being incorrectly classified as sub-contractors.

Mr Campbell says up to 400 of the businesses to be audited will be in Queensland, which has accounted for about a quarter of all home insulation installations and been the source of a significant number of complaints.

There will be about 30 audits in Victoria, 30 in NSW and 25 in WA, with the remainder in South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT.

Mr Campbell says more audits may be conducted in specific regions if the results of the initial audits warrant further action.

"Inspectors will scrutinise records to ensure workers have been paid the correct minimum rates of pay, penalty rates, loadings and allowances," Mr Campbell said.

"Where records indicate a business has engaged a worker as a sub-contractor, further investigations will be conducted to ensure the classification is correct.

"It is vital that workers are classified correctly because if they are incorrectly classified as sub-contractors, they can miss out on important entitlements such as superannuation, sick leave, annual leave and penalty rates."

Mr Campbell says if inspectors find minor or inadvertent contraventions, the preference will be to educate the employer and assist them to rectify the issue.

"We understand that some operators in the insulation industry have experienced financial difficulties and, where it is required, we are prepared to take a flexible, fair approach to recovering any underpayments," he said.

"In those cases where the contravention is blatant or employers are not willing to resolve the issue voluntarily we may escalate the matter."

Employers and workers in the insulation industry seeking more information can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. 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.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924

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