Fair Work Ombudsman focus on the Riverland

21 March 2013

Inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman will be in the Riverland this week, talking to employees about their entitlements during the picking season and educating employers about their obligations to staff.

Fair Work Inspectors will visit the Riverland this Thursday and Friday, 21 and 22 March, with a focus on Berri, Waikerie and Loxton.

Inspectors will target some employers for audits to ensure that employees are being paid correct wages and that employers are maintaining appropriate records and providing pay slips to workers.

Assistant Director, Aaron Rilstone, from the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Overseas Workers Team, said foreign workers would be a particular focus of the visit.

"The Fair Work Ombudsman has a strong focus on vulnerable workers, which can include young workers and people from overseas on working visas who may not be fully aware of their workplace rights," Mr Rilstone said.

"Many workers in the Riverland to pick fruit are on visas, as international students or working holidaymakers.

"It's important that anyone working in Australia receives their minimum entitlements and that's what we will be focusing on during our time in the Riverland."

Mr Rilstone said the Fair Work Ombudsman had received a number of complaints from pickers this season.

"We have had a number of queries to the Fair Work Ombudsman Infoline (13 13 94) and as a result of our initial assessment, we will be conducting further investigation while we are here," Mr Rilstone said.

"We are also meeting, at their request, with a large group of employees who are seeking information about wages and conditions that apply to them."

"The Fair Work Ombudsman's role is to raise awareness among employers and employees of their rights and obligations under workplace laws and to protect employees' rights."

Information is available at the Fair Work Ombudsman's website - www.fairwork.gov.au - in up to 27 languages to help both employers and employees from culturally diverse backgrounds understand and comply with workplace laws.

Free tools and resources available on the website include time sheet and pay slip templates, as well as PayCheck Plus and an Award Finder to assist business-owners to calculate the correct pay for their employees.

An ‘Industries’ section on the website provides extra, specialised information for employers and employees in a range of industries, including horticulture: www.fairwork.gov.au/industries/horticulture.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can also call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50.

Media contact: media@fwo.gov.au or Penelope Rowe on 0457 924 146.

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