The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) undertook an education and compliance campaign (the campaign) in the southern region (the region) of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
The region was identified as suitable for a campaign based upon the following factors:
- a large proportion of Requests for Assistance (RfAs) received from young workers in the regions of Queanbeyan (44.4%) and Woden (35.3%) compared to the national average (24%)
- 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 a large number of small businesses that often lack dedicated staff to perform human resources and payroll functions.
Of the 52 businesses audited:
- 43 (83%) were paying their employees correctly
- 41 (79%) were compliant with pay slip and record-keeping requirements
- 36 (69%) were compliant with all requirements
- $27 054 was recovered from four businesses on behalf of 28 employees
- two formal cautions and two compliance notices were issued.
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 Radio National Canberra. This local coverage informed a broader audience beyond those specifically included in the campaign. Many businesses advised they had heard of the campaign before the FWO contacted them.
Businesses involved in this campaign were selected randomly with a higher weighting assigned to those industries from which the FWO had received higher numbers of RfAs. Fair Work Inspectors (Inspectors) contacted businesses in the suburbs of Phillip, Weston, Woden, Queanbeyan and Holder (the southern region).
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, in particular:
- record-keeping / pay slips
- base rates of pay
- penalty rates / overtime
- allowances / loadings.
The businesses covered a range of industry sectors with the most common modern awards being:
- Restaurant Industry Award 2010
- Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
- General Retail Industry Award 2010
- Building & Construction General On-site Award 2010.
In all audits, initial contact was made through a telephone conversation with the employer. These initial conversations enabled Inspectors to readily establish that the business was operating, explain the scope and reason for the campaign, as well as the process and what to expect as a result of the audit.
Where breaches were identified by the audit, Inspectors required businesses to rectify the issue and provide proof of having done so (including back-paying any underpaid employees).
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)