The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has today announced an upcoming audit of at least 200 businesses across outer west Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Wollondilly in an attempt to improve workplace compliance and education.
Audits will cover a range of industries, including but not limited to construction, retail, manufacturing and accommodation and food services.
Inspectors will be checking businesses’ time and wage records for compliance with workplace laws, and comes after a series of similar compliance issues were identified at retail and food services chains.
Earlier this month, Inside Franchise Business reported that the FWO had uncovered non-compliance at 14 out of 15 audited Degani Bakery and Caf_ outlets, including underpayment and exploitation of at-risk workers.
The high profile case highlighted the impact of the recently updated franchisor liability laws, which now places the emphasis on franchisors to educate and ensure compliance across the franchise network.
The Degani announcement has prompted the FWO to refocus its attention on small-business compliance, starting with areas that report high numbers of workplace disputes involving young workers, such as Penrith, Springwood, Picton and Katoomba.
Sandra Parker, Fair Work Ombudsman said the recent revelations regarding the small business sector have demonstrated the importantance of proactiveness in compliance regulation.
“Proactive campaigns are an important tool to educate employers about their workplace obligations. Inspectors will provide advice to businesses to help them comply with the law,” Parker said.
“Businesses should be warned that non-compliance can lead to action ranging from formal cautions and on-the-spot fines to litigation for the most serious breaches.”
Young workers are vulnerable to underpayment and poor working conditions due to a lack of work experience and awareness of workplace rights, which Parker says is a major focus for the FWO.
“As in all our campaigns, we are keen to work closely with key stakeholders in the region in building a culture of compliance,” Parker said.
Wollondilly accounts for the highest number per 1000 businesses of anonymous reports received by the FWO in New South Wales and ranks second highest in terms of requests for assistance.