Not one but two regulators have swooped on 48 businesses as part of a joint compliance audit, with the coordinated approach aimed at “reducing the time burden on small businesses who would otherwise receive separate visits”.
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) conducted their second joint operation in and around the Melbourne CBD, including at businesses located in Balwyn, Carlton, North Melbourne and Port Melbourne.
For its part, the FWO has been doing site checks on time and wage records to ensure compliance with employee pay, payslip and record-keeping rules.
ASIC, meanwhile, has been seeking to engage directly with businesses about its role in informing and overseeing compliance with company rules.
The audits identified that 99 workers at 14 businesses had been underpaid, with the amounts recouped totalling $39,362.
A number of employers were also found to be in breach of payslip and record-keeping requirements.
Just over half (26) of the businesses audited were found to be fully compliant. Those that were not have been given notice that they may be re-audited in the future.
A similar joint campaign was undertaken in Brisbane in May 2016 which, despite also recouping close to $40,000 in wage underpayments for workers, the regulators said had “received positive feedback from businesses”.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator had been “alarmed” at the number of first-time company directors that were not even aware of their obligations under workplace laws.
“If you are new to running a business, it is your responsibility to ensure you understand your workplace obligations before you hire any employees,” she said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman has a range of free tools and resources available to help directors get the basics right as quickly as possible. Any directors with concerns should contact us before we visit their business.”
Following the Brisbane audits, then-ASIC chair Greg Medcraft had said the joint campaign with the FWO was as much about education as enforcement, given that many first-time business owners find it a challenge to even keep track of their obligations under company and workplace laws.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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