Business owners beware: amendments to the Fair Work Act have now come into force, with hefty penalties for employers who breach the law.
As previously reported by My Business, the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 has now taken effect, which includes significantly higher penalties for “serious contraventions” of workplace and record-keeping laws.
As Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) Natalie James explained, new obligations extending liability for underpayment and other breaches in franchise and subsidiary networks to head offices will start from 27 October 2017.
“Businesses that don’t keep the right records, don’t give proper pay slips, or who make false or misleading records and payslips can face higher penalties,” she said.
Ms James said franchisors and holding companies could be liable if their franchisees or subsidiaries don’t follow workplace laws, so it is important for them to make sure they take reasonable steps to prevent breaches of workplace laws in their networks.
“We will be consulting with businesses about how these laws affect them, starting with a roundtable focusing on the new franchisor liability provisions early next month,” she said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman will apply the laws judiciously and fairly, and work with business[es] to ensure employers understand their obligations under workplace laws. Employers should always check their obligations, either by accessing our free and comprehensive tools on our website, or asking their employer organisation or another qualified workplace relations adviser.
“But for those who are underpaying workers, failing to keep proper records or coercing workers to pay their wages back in cash, we will not hesitate to deploy the full set of tools in our toolbox, including using the new examination powers and seeking maximum penalties from the courts.”
A full breakdown of the changes, and what they will mean for employers, are available on the FWO website.