More than $200,000 recovered for Gold Coast workers

7 September 2021

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $215,707 in wages for 446 underpaid workers after auditing ‘cheap eats’ food precincts on the Gold Coast.

Fair Work Inspectors targeted 50 businesses in and around Southport and Broadbeach and found that 88 per cent failed to comply with workplace laws.

Businesses were selected based on their risk of non-compliance with workplace laws, with 35 employing migrant workers who can be vulnerable to exploitation. Other risk factors included a history of non-compliance with the FWO or being the subject of anonymous tip-offs to the regulator.

Of the 44 businesses found to breach workplace laws, 34 had underpaid their workers and 18 had failed to meet pay slip and record-keeping requirements.

The most common breaches found by inspectors included failures to pay penalty rates (22 businesses), followed by a failure to pay minimum rates for ordinary hours (eight businesses).

In total, Gold Coast businesses back-paid 446 employees, with amounts from individual businesses ranging from $153 for two workers to $20,333 for two workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the unannounced audits were part of a national program that has targeted cheap eat precincts in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.

“Our intelligence-led activities have audited food precincts around the country because they commonly employ a high proportion of young and migrant workers who can be vulnerable to exploitation.”

“Protecting vulnerable workers such as visa holders and improving compliance in the fast food, restaurants and cafés sector are ongoing priorities for the Fair Work Ombudsman,” Ms Parker said.

“We expect all employers to comply with workplace obligations and to use our range of free tools and resources if they need help. Any workers with concerns about their wages should contact us.”

In response to the breaches, the FWO issued 35 Compliance Notices to 31 businesses, recovering the $215,707. There were also 12 Infringement Notices issued, resulting in $9,282 in fines paid.

All non-compliant businesses were advised that any future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The FWO has targeted interactive tools to help employers and employees in the fast food, restaurant and café sector, as well as for any franchisees. Employers can also use FWO’s pay calculator and Small Business Showcase.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs, called the Assurance Protocol, where visa holders with work rights can ask for our help without fear of their visa being cancelled. Information and targeted resources are available at our webpage for visa holder workers.

Call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or a free interpreter service on 13 14 50. Know a workplace not doing the right thing but don’t want to get involved? Report it anonymously – in your language.

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Media inquiries:

Matthew Raggatt, Assistant Media Director (A/g)
Mobile: 0466 470 507