Ombudsman Cracks Down on Underpayment
20 October 2014 at 11:50 am
The Fair Work Ombudsman has cracked down on employers in a South Australian community, after an investigation found one quarter of them had been underpaying their staff.
The findings of an pro-active education and compliance campaign on Kangaroo Island were released recently.
Fair Work inspectors visited 56 employers at Kingscote, Penneshaw, American River and Parndana, as well as some inland businesses.
The audits included businesses in the hospitality, retail, manufacturing, wine production and agriculture sectors.
The Fair Work Ombudsman wrote to employers ahead of the site visits last November, and also engaged with key stakeholders.
The Ombudsman said the purpose of the campaign was to educate employers about the free tools and resources available to them from the Fair Work Ombudsman and to assess time and wage records to ensure businesses were compliant with federal workplace laws.
The campaign followed an analysis of complaints data which revealed that Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island had the highest rate of contraventions in the State, with almost 50 per cent of complaints originating from the region resulting in employees having to be reimbursed outstanding wages and entitlements.
During last year’s campaign, Fair Work inspectors found that 75 per cent of businesses were paying their employees correctly and 68 per cent were compliant with record-keeping and pay slip requirements.
While 25 per cent of employers had made errors relating to pay rates, they quickly rectified these when the mistakes were discovered.
Sixty-one employees from 10 separate businesses on the Island have been reimbursed a total of $15,618 in underpaid wages and entitlements.
“Most employers were both welcoming and willing to positively engage with us,” Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said.
“Where we found businesses which had underpaid their employees, they were often concerned to ensure that they back-paid their staff as quickly as possible.
“Inspectors left Kangaroo Island confident that those employers they met appear largely motivated to do the right thing in terms of understanding and adhering to their obligations.
“We were encouraged by the level of interest and engagement among employers and are hopeful the campaign will assist businesses to more easily comply with their obligations in the future.”