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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 resolution of workplace disputes by supporting parties to access the suite of comprehensive advice and tools available on our website as well as provide tailored advice and assisted dispute resolution services.

We use enforcement tools such as litigation where we see deliberate or repeated exploitation of highly vulnerable workers. Where this exploitation occurs as part of large supply chains or service networks, we use all available mechanisms to encourage all those involved to ensure their workplace systems and processes enable all workers to receive their lawful entitlements.

Our approach involves assisting individuals to resolve their matters while conducting broader scale interventions where we can facilitate 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 workers
  • targeting industries and geographic regions with high or emerging levels of non-compliance such as hospitality and cleaning
  • identifying and working with partners to address drivers of non-compliant behaviour in complex supply chains and service networks
  • supporting small businesses 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.

Performance snapshot

Infographic showing how the Fair Work Ombudsman provided advice and assistance and its dispute resolution and enforcement activities.

Activities and recoveries

In 2017-18, we recovered over $29.6 million in unpaid wages for more than 13 000 workers through requests for assistance involving a workplace dispute and FWO-initiated activities. Of the 28 275 requests for assistance we handled involving a workplace dispute:

  • 96% (27 074) were resolved through education and dispute resolution activities in an average of 7 days, with more than $20.8 million recovered
  • 4% (1201) were resolved through compliance activities in an average of 167 days, with more than $2.7 million recovered.

The FWO also conducted 5301 FWO-initiated activities through evidence-based campaign audits and inquiries in sectors at high risk of non-compliance. FWO-initiated activities accounted for more than $6.1 million in recoveries.