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Almost $700k recovered for over 1,000 underpaid workers

Regulation

FWO inspectors investigated 84 food precincts across Melbourne with 86 per cent found to have breached workplace laws.

By Josh Needs 9 minute read

Almost $700,000 has been recovered for 1,004 underpaid workers after the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) investigated 84 businesses across Melbourne’s food precincts. 

As part of the regulator’s national program targeting food precincts in most major cities, the FWO completed 82 investigations and found 86 per cent of businesses had breached workplace laws. 

Firms were selected for surprise inspections based on their risk of breaching workplace laws with at-risk businesses that had a history of non-compliance with the FWO, subject to anonymous tip-offs or employed vulnerable visa holders among those visited. 

The FWO said of the 71 businesses found to be in breach 68 had underpaid their workers and 24 had failed to meet pay slip or record-keeping requirements.

The most common breaches found were underpaying penalty rates, 52 businesses, followed by failing to pay minimum wages, 51 firms, and record-keeping issues, 17 businesses.  

In response to the breaches, the FWO issued a compliance notice to each of the 68 businesses, recovering $684,543 for 1,004 workers and 32 infringement notices were issued for pay slip and record-keeping breaches that resulted in $53,721. 

The regulator said the largest recovery from a single business was $83,272 for 170 employees in St Kilda.

The FWO said it continues to investigate two businesses and non-compliant firms were informed that any future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement. 

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said the findings from the action taken across Melbourne were disappointing. 

“Uncovering high levels of non-compliance in Melbourne’s fast food, restaurant and cafe sector, as the FWO has nationwide, is disappointing,” said Ms Hannah. 

“Employers can’t pick and choose which wage laws they follow and those doing the wrong thing are being found out.” 

“The Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to prioritise improving compliance in this sector which we know employs many visa holders and young workers who can be vulnerable.” 

 

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Josh Needs

Josh Needs

AUTHOR

Josh Needs is a journalist at Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, which are the leading sources of news, strategy, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Josh studied journalism at the University of NSW and previously wrote news, feature articles and video reviews for Unsealed 4x4, a specialist offroad motoring website. Since joining the Momentum Media Team in 2022, Josh has written for Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser.

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