Businesses risk penalties for paying staff incorrectly
An audit is being carried out by the Fair Work Ombudsman on 1000 businesses across Australia.
This is part of a new ‘Workplace Basics’ campaign designed to ensure that businesses are meeting their obligations to employees.
The industries and areas of focus selected for the campaign have been informed by the analysis of data obtained from the Fair Work Ombudsman’s intelligence reports, including its anonymous reports, which have identified hotspots of concern.
The Workplace Basics campaign will see Fair Work inspectors assist businesses in accessing and navigating the wide range of free resources available, to help them meet their obligations to pay workers correctly and follow record-keeping and pay-slip laws.
One area of focus will be the fast food, restaurant and cafe sectors in addition to others such as retail, security and manufacturing. Businesses within service networks and part of labour supply chains will also be examined.
Changes made by the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 mean companies involved in serious contraventions now face penalties of up to $630,000 per contravention. The maximum penalties for individuals are now $126,000 per contravention.
The Act also doubled the maximum penalty for failing to keep employee records or issue pay slips to $63,000 for a company and $12,600 for an individual, and tripled the maximum penalty for knowingly making or keeping false or misleading employee records to $12,600 for an individual.
A reverse onus of proof can also now apply, meaning that employers who do not meet record-keeping or pay-slip obligations and cannot give a reasonable excuse will need to disprove allegations of underpayments made in a court.
Employers and employees can seek assistance at www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. Small businesses can opt for priority service by following the prompts. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.
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