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‘Not an excuse’: 50% of businesses fail on basic compliance

Nearly half of all businesses audited by Fair Work failed to keep up with the basics of workplace law compliance, including record keeping and paying staff the correct rates.

Bookkeeper Aidan Curtis 12 March 2020
— 1 minute read

More than $1.3 million has been recovered for underpaid employees following a nationwide Fair Work audit of Australian businesses.


The audit, which commenced in 2018, was initiated after data showed many businesses were failing the “basics” of workplace law compliance.

The basics refer to businesses paying their staff the correct rates, providing proper payslips and keeping proper employment records.

Of the 1,217 businesses audited, 583 were found to have failed in the basics of workplace law, with 70 per cent underpaying workers and 30 per cent failing in their record keeping and payslip obligations.

Businesses were targeted in industries including hospitality, domestic construction, retail, manufacturing and administration services.

As a result of the audit, $1,326,125 has been recovered for underpaid employees.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sarah Parker said the results were a wake-up call to employers that they need to prioritise workplace law compliance.

“Nearly three-quarters of employers that breached the law said they weren’t aware of the rules, which is not an excuse,” Ms Parker said.

“Businesses are failing the basic requirements of being a responsible employer if they are not carrying out adequate due diligence before hiring.”

Fair Work inspectors issued 24 on-the-spot fines totalling $32,980 in penalties in response to workplace law breaches.

Inspectors also issued 457 contravention letters, 56 formal cautions and 47 compliance notices to businesses.

Eight employers remain under investigation for serious non-compliance, and the FWO is considering compliance and enforcement responses which could include legal action and large penalties.

‘Not an excuse’: 50% of businesses fail on basic compliance
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