Fair Work Inspectors hit Fortitude Valley eateries with unannounced audits

5 May 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman has this week conducted a series of surprise visits to restaurants, bars and cafes in a popular casual dining precinct in Brisbane to check compliance with workplace laws.

Over the past three days, Fair Work Inspectors have visited approximately 80 businesses in Fortitude Valley and its surrounds.  Businesses were selected for audit at random or based on intelligence and allegations of non-compliance provided to the Fair Work Ombudsman by members of the public.

The audits involve Fair Work Inspectors assessing time-and-wage records to check pay rates and entitlements and compliance with pay-slip and record-keeping laws.

Inspectors also spoke with various business operators and employees during the visits.

The inner-city suburb of Fortitude Valley lies immediately northeast of the Brisbane CBD and, renowned for its nightclubs, bars and adult entertainment, is popular with city-workers, students and backpackers due to a proliferation of affordable restaurants, bars and cafes.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says inspectors are keen to assess whether the low prices charged in and around Fortitude Valley are due to efficiencies in business practices, as opposed to underpayment of employees’ minimum entitlements.

“With many businesses in the area operating seven days a week, we are focusing on ensuring employees are being paid applicable penalty rates for weekend and night work,” Ms James says.

“We also want to be proactive about checking vulnerable employees – including young, migrant and overseas workers – are receiving their full entitlements because we know they can be reluctant to complain and are sometimes not fully aware of their rights.”

The assessment of time and wage records obtained during site visits is ongoing.

Ms James says Inspectors take a fair and flexible approach to assisting employers to voluntarily rectify non-compliance issues but employers who refuse to co-operate or are found to have serious non-compliance issues may face enforcement action.

Members of the community can alert the Agency to potential workplaces issues using the Anonymous Report function at www.fairwork.gov.au/tipoff.

The Fair Work Ombudsman provides a range of free tools and resources, available at www.fairwork.gov.au, including the Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT), which provides advice about pay, shift, leave and redundancy entitlements.

The ‘Record My Hours’ smartphone app is aimed at tackling the persistent problem of underpayment of vulnerable workers and provides a record of time spent at a workplace: www.fairwork.gov.au/tools-and-resources/record-my-hours-app.

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.  Small business operators can opt to receive priority service from the Small Business Helpline.

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Media inquiries:

Eithne Johnston, Media Adviser
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