Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered more than $400,000 in wages

This is a compilation of comments made as a result of snap inspections on Brisbane business owners.  These comments have been made as a result of these breaches by business owners by the Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, and Associate Professor Richard Robinson from the University of Queensland Business School.

ABBS Comments

As bookkeepers and BAS agents engaged in processing wages for many businesses both large and small, we occasionally hear comments like:-

We have never done that and have never had a problem.

I have talked to other business owners I know, and they don’t do it so why should I?

As you read through this brief, you should be asking yourself the question,

Is it worth the risk of being caught out in a Fair Work snap inspection and receiving an infringement notice?

What is the likely penalty if I do not comply with the Fair Work laws?  (See infringement notice fines section below)

Comment quotes FWO

  • Of the 77 businesses inspected across South Brisbane, Fortitude Valley, Sunnybank, and the CBD, 75 per cent had breached workplace laws. 
  • “It’s disappointing,” FWO Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.
  • The surprise inspections were carried out across Brisbane
  • The largest amount paid by a Brisbane business was $80,258.
  • Ms Parker said the most common breaches were failure to pay penalty rates or casual loading and underpayment of the minimum hourly rate.
  • “The employer might not give out payslips, they have two sets of books, or they tell a worker to keep their pay a secret,” she said.
  • It is the employer’s responsibility to keep accurate records, which include timesheets,
  • “Employers can’t pick and choose the laws they follow,” Ms Parker said.

Professor Richard Robinson

  • Associate Professor Richard Robinson from the University of Queensland Business School surveyed almost 400 workers earlier this year.
  • He wanted to understand how their work experiences aligned with the five Fair Work principles: Contracts, pay, working conditions, payroll management, and representation.
  • “The results exposed deep cultural issues, with poor behaviours and practices that have become normalised and systemic,” Dr Robinson said.
  • Pay and contracts were among the concerns raised.
  • Almost 20 per cent of respondents said they had not received minimum pay rates or were unsure whether they were paid fairly.

What is an infringement notice

An infringement notice is similar to an on-the-spot fine. It can be issued by a Fair Work Inspector (FWI) to an employer who doesn’t follow its record-keeping and pay slip obligations under Australian workplace laws including:

  • not making or keeping time and wage records
  • not including the right information on a pay slip or employee record
  • not issuing pay slips within 1 working day of paying employees.

It’s important for employers to keep accurate records to avoid fines and so employees and FWIs can check that employees are getting the correct entitlements.

Infringement notice fines

  • Up to $1,332 per breach for an individual
  • Up to $6,660 per breach for a corporation.

When an infringement notice can be issued

An infringement notice can be issued any time an employer doesn’t follow a workplace law relating to record-keeping or pay slips. This includes the first time a problem occurs. An infringement notice can be issued for 1 or more breaches. When deciding whether to issue an infringement notice an FWI may consider factors such as:

  • if it’s the first time the employer hasn’t followed a workplace law
  • how serious the breach of the workplace law is
  • if the employer intentionally didn’t follow the workplace law
  • if the employer didn’t keep the right records to avoid paying employees what they’re owed.

If an FWI decides not to issue an infringement notice, the FWI might find another way to help the employer fix the problem. The FWI may check that the problem has been fixed at a later date.

For more information, call us on 1300 022 270.