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FWO priorities and activities

The FWO delivers a range of services to support compliant, productive and inclusive Australian workplaces. We provide advice, assistance and, where appropriate, enforce workplace laws.

We encourage early self-resolution of workplace disputes by supporting parties to access the suite of comprehensive advice and tools available via our website and providing advice tailored to their situation.

Where it is appropriate, we aim to keep employment relationships intact by helping employees and employers access, understand and apply Australian workplace laws.

We use enforcement tools where we see deliberate or repeated exploitation of highly vulnerable workers by operators.

Where these operators are part of large supply chains or networks, we encourage those benefiting from the labour to use the levers available to them to ensure their system effectively prevents underpayment of workers.

Our approach involves assisting individuals to resolve their matters and also deploying our resources in activities designed to deliver sustainable change to the workplace practices of non-compliant sectors of the labour market. This includes:

  • addressing issues faced by vulnerable cohorts, in particular, migrant and young workers
  • targeting industries and geographic regions with high levels of non-compliance such as hospitality, retail, cleaning and agriculture
  • identifying and working with partners to address drivers of non-compliant behaviour in complex supply chains and networks
  • supporting small business to comply.

Further details about our priorities and strategies are included in the FWO Corporate Plan, the FWO Strategic Intent and the FWO Compliance and Enforcement Policy, available on our website.

How the FWO provided advice, assistance and enforced workplace laws in 2016–17

 Image showing how the FWO provided advice, assistance and enforced workplace laws in 2016–17, with flow chart and explanation of FWO services. For more information, see details on the FWO website including the How we will help section and the  FWOCompliance and Enforcement Policy.

Image showing how the FWO provided advice, assistance and enforced workplace laws in 2016–17, with flow chart and explanation of FWO services. For more information, see details on the FWO website including the How we will help section and the  FWOCompliance and Enforcement Policy.

Activities and recoveries

In 2016–17, we recovered more than $30.6 million in unpaid wages for more than 17 000 workers through requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute and FWO-initiated activities. Of the 26 917 requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute:

  • 94% (25 332) were resolved through education and dispute resolution activities in an average of seven days, with more than $16.7 million recovered
  • 6% (1585) were resolved through compliance activities in an average of 136 days, with more than $4.6 million recovered. Of this, more than $3.5 million was recovered through use of our statutory enforcement tools.

In addition, we conducted 5645 FWO-initiated activities including inquiries and campaign audits in sectors at high risk of non-compliance. These FWO-initiated activities accounted for more than $9.3 million in recoveries, including $4.5 million through use of our statutory enforcement tools.