The Fair Work Ombudsman (“FWO”) has recently announced a tough new stance on enforcement of workplace laws, with certain industries and issues singled out for greater scrutiny.  With an additional $9 million in funding and support from the Morrison Government to prioritise enforcement, the FWO have been given new powers to target employers that underpay workers or are in breach of modern awards and the National Employment Standards.

“We will use our new powers and publicly name employers who break the law to get the message out that it is not acceptable to underpay workers or deprive them of their entitlements. Employers who do this will get caught” warned the FWO’s Sandra Parker.

The priority industries or issues the FWO will focus on in 2019/2020 are:

  • Fast food, restaurants and cafes
  • Horticulture and the harvest trail
  • Supply chain risks
  • Franchisors
  • Sham contracting

The fast food, restaurant and café industries have rated as the highest-ranking industries for disputes over the last five financial years accounting for one quarter of all of the FWO’s litigations and a third of its enforceable undertakings for that time period.

Employers that are not meeting their obligations may be taken to court and can now face penalties of up to $630,000 for a company and $126,000 for an individual for a serious contravention.

“So if you are in one of our priority industries, operate a franchise system or employ large numbers of migrant workers, you should expect to hear from us,” Ms Parker said.

A copy of the FWO’s full announcement is here.

How Employment Innovations can help

It is now more important than ever to ensure that your business is complying with its obligations under workplace laws. If you need assistance in understanding your responsibilities under modern awards and the National Employment Standards (for example, the minimum rates you should be paying staff) please contact Employment Innovations today.

Our subscription products include a workplace compliance audit, and you’ll also have access to unlimited workplace advice and all the HR documents and templates you’ll need.