FWO recovers half a billion dollars for workers

1 August 2023

The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced recoveries of $509 million in unpaid wages and entitlements for more than a quarter of a million workers in 2022-23.

The recoveries sum is the second-largest annual figure in the national regulator’s history.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah announced the figures in a speech to the Policy-Influence-Reform (PIR) conference in Canberra this morning, and said they were another important achievement.

“The recovery of $509 million in the last financial year is a great result for the workers who have been backpaid their withheld wages, and also for the businesses that pay correctly and are no longer at a disadvantage as a result,” Ms Hannah said.

“The latest recoveries mean the Fair Work Ombudsman has seen more than $1 billion recovered for workers across Australia in the last two years alone.”

More than half of the 2022-23 recoveries – $317 million – came from large corporate and university employers.

“These results occur after the consistent work that our agency has done to create an environment that expects large corporates to prioritise compliance and to report to us when they have got it wrong,” Ms Hannah said.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman is continuing to use all the powers available to us to enforce compliance, especially where breaches impact vulnerable workers.”

In the last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman has accepted Enforceable Undertakings related to backpayments of millions of dollars each from companies including David Jones, Politix, Crown Melbourne and Perth, and Suncorp, as well as three separate universities.

We also commenced major litigations against Super Retail Group and four of its subsidiaries, and against two franchisors, 85 Degrees Coffee and Bakers Delight Holdings, alleging both are liable for franchisee breaches of workplace laws.

Ms Hannah said the regulator had also delivered on its important role to educate on workplace laws, including regular changes.

“As a regulator we recognise that prevention is better than cure, so we put a huge amount of effort into our education and advice function to help ensure employers and workers have the latest accurate information they need to be compliant,” Ms Hannah said.

“We highlight that from today, all national system employees can access ten days of Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave. That entitlement takes effect for small business today, after commencing for other employers in February. We have a range of updated information to help.”

The Fair Work Ombudsman has extensive online information and resources about the new paid family and domestic violence leave changes, covering when the leave applies, payment for the leave, notice and evidence requirements, how to record the leave on a pay slip and privacy considerations.

Employers and employees can also call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. Small businesses can find targeted resources at the Small Business Showcase.

Download the Speech to Australian Industry Group PIR Conference 2023 .

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Media inquiries:

Matthew, 0466 470 507, media@fwo.gov.au