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Our approach

The inquiry aimed to:

  • determine the levels of compliance by businesses engaging workers to provide cleaning services at Tasmanian supermarket sites
  • enable the FWO to recommend strategies that would address non-compliance through building a culture of compliance within this subsector.

Of the three main supermarket operators who conduct business in Tasmania (IGA, Coles and Woolworths), IGA supermarkets have the highest number of sites in Tasmania. IGA’s Tasmanian sites assessed during the inquiry employed their own staff to complete cleaning duties and use local contractors on an ad-hoc but infrequent basis.

In October 2014, Coles stores began directly employing cleaners to undertake the daily cleaning of their Tasmanian supermarket sites and assumed direct responsibility for the lawful minimum entitlements of their employees engaged in cleaning activities.

As Woolworths remained the major supermarket retailer contracting out its cleaning services, procurement arrangements at Woolworths' sites became a focus of the inquiry.

The inquiry relied on powers contained in subsections 682(1)(b) and 1(c) of the Act to examine individuals and businesses involved in the supply of cleaners at the audited Woolworths, Coles and IGA supermarket sites.

These provisions allow FWO inspectors to conduct monitoring, inquiry and investigation activities as per sections 708, 709, 711, 712 and 714 of the Act. This includes conducting interviews and issuing notices to produce records or documents on businesses involved in labour supply chains.

The inquiry formally commenced in late November 2014 and occurred in two phases.

The first phase involved inspectors visiting 15 Woolworths and Coles supermarket sites throughout Tasmania (based on specific intelligence indicating serious non-compliance), speaking with cleaners, and examining records.

Inspectors conducted unannounced site visits at the time cleaners were cleaning each site. Visits typically occurred between 3.00 am and 7.00 am. Inspectors identified cleaning staff at each site and conducted site visit questionnaires with workers. Subject to findings, investigations were then commenced if there was a reasonable view that non-compliance may have occurred.

After the initial site visits and surveys had been completed, it was decided that phase two of the inquiry would focus on 55 supermarket sites (43% of total Tasmanian supermarket sites):

  • 31 Woolworths supermarket sites
  • seven Coles supermarket sites
  • 17 IGA supermarket sites.

This report details the findings of the outcomes of the investigations involving these 55 sites.