Small and mid-sized Australian businesses were among more than 20,000 anonymous complaints made by disgruntled workers in the last 18 months, the Fair Work Ombudsman has revealed.
In a statement outlining the response to its Anonymous Reporting tool, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) said it had received in excess of 20,000 “tip-offs” about questionable and downright dodgy workplace practices.
“In one matter, Fair Work inspectors conducted an unannounced visit at a Sydney retail business after receiving an anonymous report alleging employees received as little as $8 per hour, cash in hand,” it said.
That particular retail business in Sydney was ultimately forced to repay workers some $50,000 in wages and entitlements after it as found to have breached a number of workplace obligations.
Yet ombudsman Natalie James said these complaints from members of the public are not just about catching out poor practices, but also provide “valuable intelligence” on how businesses are operating and where they are most struggling with their compliance requirements, as well as allowing it to better target audits.
“For example, the hospitality industry accounts for 17 per cent of our formal requests for assistance, however it accounts for 36 per cent of anonymous tip-offs,” she said.
The retail industry is the next most commonly complained about sector. Both industries rely heavily on modern awards to pay workers.