Year one for Fair Work Ombudsman
28 October 2010
The Fair Work Infoline last year fielded 1.1 million telephone calls from Australians seeking advice about workplace relations, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s 2009-10 annual report reveals.
More than 747,000 people also visited the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website last financial year for information about workplace matters.
Fair Work websites recorded a total of more than 3.6 million hits and practical resources such as fact sheets, self-audit checklists, how-to-guides and templates were downloaded more than 1.2 million times.
An interactive “live help” online facility – a real-time, text-based chat program – was used more than 35,000 times for information and advice.
Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says he is encouraged that industry and employers are engaging with the Agency’s free services and more Australian workers are becoming aware of how the organisation can assist them.
“We are serious about our job of building knowledge and creating fairer workplaces,” he said.
Established by the Fair Work Act on July 1 last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman has a wide mission to provide education and advice and to build compliance with workplace laws to create fairer Australian workplaces.
Its primary objective is to assist employers and employees alike to understand their respective workplace rights and obligations.
“The Fair Work Act has given us much stronger emphasis on educating workplace participants and promoting fairness and we take that responsibility very seriously,” Mr Wilson said.
“It’s fair to say that our stronger focus on education and advice about the national system has not been without its challenges – chiefly around the content and operation of modern awards and the transitional arrangements announced by Fair Work Australia – but I am pleased with how we have responded.”
An Agency-wide Education Strategy is focused on delivering useful and practical educational resources for employers and employees through both the Infoline and online at www.fairwork.gov.au.
These are supported by general communications activities and strong and pro-active media activity to raise the profile of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s services.
Mr Wilson says that the Fair Work Ombudsman has also invested considerable time in establishing relationships with industry associations and unions.
“We recently offered $2.5 million in grants to a number of peak bodies to assist to educate employers, particularly those running small businesses, about changes to modern awards,” he said.
The Fair Work Ombudsman last year launched a National Employer Branch to provide guidance, direction, advice and assistance to large national enterprises and franchise operators to ensure they meet their obligations.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman is committed to providing ongoing support to business to ensure they understand and comply with national workplace laws,” Mr Wilson said.
Also last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman:
- Finalised 21,070 investigations from complaints
- Resolved almost 99 per cent of all investigations through voluntary compliance and not court action
- Undertook three national and 34 regional education and compliance campaigns
- Doubled its shopfront network to 52 offices nationally, through a partnership with state-based workplace relations partners in SA, NSW and QLD, and
- Expanded translated material for employers from culturally and linguistically diverse communities to cover 26 languages.
The Fair Work Ombudsman recouped more than $26.1 million for 16,088 underpaid workers nationally from complaints and targeted audits. A state-by-state breakdown is as follows:
- $7.65 million for 4718 workers in NSW
- $6.90 million for 3164 workers in Victoria
- $4.25 million for 3749 workers in Queensland
- $2.65 million for 1634 workers in Western Australia
- $1.75 million for 1178 workers in the ACT
- $1.71 million for 976 workers in South Australia
- $870,000 for 420 workers in Tasmania, and
- Almost $400,000 for 249 workers in the Northern Territory.
Some of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s educational initiatives include:
- Best Practice Guides dealing with a range of workplace matters such as work and family and managing underperformance.
- PayCheck, Payroll Check and a Pay Rate Calculator to enable employers and employees to calculate rates of pay under modern awards.
- Pay and Condition Guides which enable users to see at a glance base rates of pay for all classifications, casuals, part time, apprentices and trainees.
- A 'How To' Guide which steps people through modern award transition processes.
- Award Finder - a search tool which enables clients to find modern awards and pre modern awards.
- Transition Assist, an email enquiry service made available to registered organisations to assist with complex inquiries.
- Template documents and letters for small business to assist with managing employment related issues.
- Fact Sheets covering a range of issues such as annual leave, right of entry, transfer of business and enterprise bargaining.
- Multi-media resources explaining changes under the Fair Work Act and modern awards.
- The Fair Work Information Statement, available in 26 languages.
- A Self Audit Checklist for employers to determine whether record-keeping requirements are being met.
- Industry-specific web pages with information tailored for individual industries, including horticulture, retail, security, hair & beauty, clerical and cleaning, and
- Employer Education Packs for 50,000 businesses who will receive face-to-face visits in NSW, Queensland, SA and Tasmania over three years as part of their transition to the Commonwealth workplace relations system.
A copy of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Annual Report is available at www.fairwork.gov.au.
Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
Richard Honey, Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations,
(03) 9954 2716, 0457 924 146
Craig Bildstien, Director, Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484
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