The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) undertook an education and compliance campaign (the campaign) in the Alice Springs – Barkly region (the region).
The campaign was initiated due to:
- low compliance rates (40%) for businesses audited in the 2014 Alice Springs education and compliance campaign
- a number of requests for assistance (RfAs) received from employees working in a range of industry sectors in the region
- projected growth across numerous industries, including Public Administration & Safety, Health Care & Social Assistance, Construction and Accommodation & Food Services1
- an opportunity for the FWO to reach out to small regional businesses that often lack dedicated staff to perform human resources and payroll functions.
Of the 38 businesses audited:
- 33 (87%) were compliant with record-keeping and pay slip requirements
- 25 (66%) were paying their employees correctly
- 23 (61%) were compliant with all requirements
- a combined total of $77 984.69 was recovered from nine businesses on behalf of 44 employees2
- two formal cautions and three infringement notices (on-the-spot fines) were issued
- one enforceable undertaking was executed
- one litigation was filed.
What we did
The FWO contacted stakeholders in the region to discuss the planning, delivery and promotion of the campaign.
The campaign received media coverage through a number of local media outlets including the Workforce Guardian. This local coverage informed a broader audience beyond those specifically included in the campaign. Some businesses advised they had heard of the campaign before the FWO contacted them.
The businesses selected for participation in this campaign were chosen randomly, with a higher selection weighting assigned to those industry sectors from which the FWO had received higher numbers of RfAs.
Fair Work Inspectors (Inspectors) conducted a total of 38 audits on businesses throughout towns in the region, including Tennant Creek, Ciccone and Alice Springs. The businesses were audited against the requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act), the Fair Work Regulations 2009 (the Regulations) and the applicable award or agreement. Where breaches were identified, Inspectors required businesses to rectify the issue and provide proof of having done so (including back-paying any underpaid employees).
The most common modern awards identified during the audits were:
- Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010
- General Retail Industry Award 2010
- Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010
- Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
- Restaurant Industry Award 2010
- Fast Food Industry Award 2010.
Inspectors also provided businesses with information and resources to help them comply with their obligations under Australian workplace laws. In particular, businesses were provided with the online resources freely available on the FWO website www.fairwork.gov.au, including pay rates, hiring employees, My account and online training courses.
- Department of Employment, Labour market information portal, Industry Employment Profiles – Australian regions (four quarter averages of Original Labour Force Survey Data, ANZSIC Divisions)
- Includes $50 664.69 back paid to 11 employees under the Enforceable Undertaking with Tennant Creek Women’s Refuge Inc. It excludes monies back-paid during FWO’s ongoing court proceedings against David Mayne Pty Ltd (see ‘Case study- litigation’, in Compliance and enforcement of this report).