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Major pharmacy franchise CW Retail Services Pty Ltd (Chemist Warehouse) has back-paid employees and improved its payroll practices following a three-year compliance partnership with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Chemist Warehouse voluntarily entered into a Compliance Deed in 2016 to improve workplace compliance across its franchise network of retail pharmacy businesses that now employ over 14,200 staff nationwide at more than 400 stores.

This followed both FWO audits and the company’s own review finding non-compliance with workplace laws across the network, related to the non-payment of staff for training.

The partnership committed Chemist Warehouse to take steps including improving resources, training and processes, setting up an employment relations hotline and email service for staff within the franchise network to enable them to raise concerns, and arranging independent audits to assess franchisee compliance with Australian workplace laws and applicable fair work instruments.

The company conducted workplace law training for more than 560 owners, supervisors and managers of franchisee businesses. It also updated its staff on-boarding system and put in place a new payroll system.

Chemist Warehouse resolved 342 individual queries or complaints from employees, with $99,062.98 paid to 118 employees across the three-year partnership. Most of these matters – 88 per cent – were raised in the first year and 69 per cent of all matters related to the training payment issue.

In addition, Chemist Warehouse engaged an independent law firm to complete the annual audits of its franchise network to ensure staff were correctly paid. These audits identified underpayments of $11,539 for 820 out of 2,521 employees audited, with most underpaid workers across each audit owed less than $1. All workers have been back-paid.

The largest underpayments (85 per cent of the total recovered) were identified in the first of the three audits, with just $459 needing to be back-paid as a result of last year’s final audit of more than 300 Chemist Warehouse stores.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the compliance partnership demonstrated the franchisor’s commitment to supporting current and future Chemist Warehouse employees.

“Chemist Warehouse has implemented processes to resolve workplace disputes efficiently across its network and educated franchisees on their lawful obligations under the Fair Work Act. The company will continue to work with its independent auditor post the expiry of the deed with the FWO,” Ms Parker said.

“Franchises are a priority sector for the FWO and we urge all franchisor head offices to prioritise compliance with workplace laws or risk breaches that impact their brand and workers. Franchisors should be aware that they can now be held responsible for their franchisees’ conduct and may be subject to enforcement action, court proceedings and penalties if their franchisees have breached the law.”

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The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $161,551 in unpaid wages for 284 workers after a national proactive investigation of 51 fast food outlets, restaurants and cafés employing Korean workers.

Fair Work Inspectors investigated food businesses in Brisbane (13), Sydney (12), Perth (11), Melbourne (10) and Canberra (five) between August and December last year.

These audits occurred due to previous food sector investigations raising concerns about the exploitation of workers from Korea, including students. The FWO also received intelligence from young and migrant employees indicating exploitation. The Fair Work Ombudsman considers such workers potentially vulnerable due to their age and visa status.

Inspectors interviewed employees, managers and storeowners during site visits and checked employment records and pay slips.

The regulator found that 71 per cent of the 51 audited outlets were non-compliant with workplace laws. Of these 36 businesses in breach, 61 per cent had underpaid employees and 75 per cent had not met pay slip and record-keeping obligations. The most common breaches found were underpaying penalty rates (26 per cent) and failing to issue pay slips (22 per cent).

Korean migrants made up a significant number of the affected employees of businesses in breach, particularly student visa holders. Migrant workers from a range of other countries were also impacted.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the underpayment of migrant workers, including young students, was unacceptable.

“Australian workplace laws protect all workers, regardless of nationality or age. As this investigation shows, the Fair Work Ombudsman prioritises matters involving migrant workers, who may be particularly vulnerable due to visa status and have limited knowledge of their rights,” Ms Parker said.

“While this investigation commenced prior to the pandemic, the FWO continues to enforce workplace laws in the food sector as a priority. We do so in a proportionate manner, knowing that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on many businesses in the fast food, restaurant and café sector.”

Total recoveries were $95,984 for 65 workers at five Melbourne businesses; $31,376 for 139 workers at six Brisbane businesses; $22,827 for 31 workers at four Sydney businesses; $8,259 for 24 workers at three Canberra businesses; and $3,105 for 24 workers from four Perth outlets.

Recoveries from individual businesses ranged from $18 for four employees in a Perth business to $56,688 for 11 employees of a Melbourne business.

In response to the breaches, inspectors issued 20 Compliance Notices requiring employers to rectify breaches of the law, resulting in the full back-payments of $161,551. There were also 34 Infringement Notices (total penalties of $39,480) for pay slip and record-keeping breaches, and two formal cautions.

Multinational technology company IBM has back-paid Australian employees more than $12 million after entering into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) (DOCX 53.8KB) (PDF 12.3MB) with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

IBM Australia Ltd and IBM Global Financing Australia Limited self-reported to the regulator last year that they had underpaid employees after failing to apply the relevant Awards.

The underpaid employees, located across all States and Territories, were variously covered by Business Equipment Award 2010, the Professional Employees Award 2010, the Banking, Finance and Insurance Industry Award 2010 and the Nurses Award 2010.

IBM had failed to apply the Award to most of its employees because they were salaried professionals earning significantly above minimum Award wage rates.

This led to IBM failing to provide employees with more than 15 different Award entitlements and conditions, with the most significant issues relating to vehicle allowances, superannuation entitlements and annual leave loading.

A significant number of casual staff at IBM’s contact centre in Ballarat were paid the National Minimum Wage, as opposed to the higher rates and entitlements in the applicable Award.

As at 1 February this year, IBM had identified and back-paid 1647 workers a total of $12.3 million, which includes interest, for underpayments that occurred between 2012 and 2020. Individual back-payments range from less than $1 to over $145,000. The employees impacted included technical professionals who use a motor vehicle as part of their role, as well as the casual workforce.

Further underpayments, expected to be significant in size, are yet to be quantified and the EU requires the organisation to calculate and pay outstanding amounts to every affected employee by 16 October this year.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that an EU was appropriate as IBM had cooperated with the investigation and demonstrated a strong commitment to rectifying all underpayments.

“Under the Enforceable Undertaking, IBM has committed to stringent measures to comply with the law and protect its workforce. This includes engaging, at its own cost, an expert auditing firm to conduct an independent assessment of the outcomes of its rectification program and to audit its compliance with workplace laws over the next two to three years,” Ms Parker said.

“This matter serves as a warning to all employers that if you don’t prioritise workplace compliance, you risk underpaying staff on a large scale. Any employers who need help meeting their lawful workplace obligations should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice.”

The Enforceable Undertaking commits IBM to make two contrition payments to the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund by 27 November 2020. In total, the two contrition payments will be equal to 5.25 per cent of the underpayments IBM identifies for all employees.

Under the EU, an expert will conduct its own review of the underpayments identified by IBM, which is due to be completed next year, and report the results directly to the FWO. Any further underpayments identified by the expert will attract a higher contrition payment of 7 per cent.

IBM must also fund an independent organisation to operate a Hotline to assist its employees for the next 12 months. IBM is also required to display public, workplace and online notices detailing its workplace law breaches, and must apologise to workers.

Western Australian electricity network provider Western Power has back-paid employees more than $8 million, and is reporting to the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure it correctly calculates and finalises further significant back-payments, under an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) (DOCX 52.3KB) (PDF 11.8MB) entered into with the FWO.

Western Power, a statutory corporation owned by the WA State Government, self-reported to the regulator last year that it had underpaid employees located in Perth and the South-West of WA.

The affected employees were managers, team leaders and staff in professional, para-professional, technical and administration roles, who all entered into Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFAs).

The underpayments were the result of the company failing to correctly ensure employees on individual agreements were better off compared with the Enterprise Agreements that covered the employees, and excluding entitlements in the Enterprise Agreements which were not permitted to be varied in the individual agreements.

This resulted in Western Power underpaying hundreds of staff pay-point-progression payments, allowances, penalties, overtime, redundancy pay and superannuation entitlements at various times between March 2010 and January 2020.

Before the execution of the EU, the company had identified and back-paid 1,238 workers a total of $8.29 million, which includes interest and superannuation. Individual back-payments range from $2 to over $40,000.

Further back-payments relating to the underpaid entitlements – expected to be significant in size – are yet to be finalised. The EU requires Western Power to calculate and pay outstanding amounts to every underpaid employee by 1 October this year.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that an Enforceable Undertaking offered to the FWO by Western Power was accepted, given the commitments it included and the level of cooperation the company had shown.

“Western Power demonstrated a strong commitment to rectifying all underpayments, and the Enforceable Undertaking commits the organisation to stringent measures to protect its workforce. This includes an independent assessment of its rectification program by a qualified expert and two future independent audits of its compliance over the next two years,” Ms Parker said.

“This matter serves as a warning to all organisations that if you don’t prioritise workplace compliance, you risk underpaying staff on a large scale. Any employers who need help meeting their lawful workplace obligations should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free advice.”

Under the EU, Western Power will make an initial $400,000 contrition payment into the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, followed by a second contrition payment into the fund next year with this amount to be calculated once underpayments are finalised.

As part of the EU, the organisation must operate a hotline for 12 months that employees can use to make enquiries in relation to their entitlements, underpayments or related employment concerns. Western Power is also required to display public, workplace and online notices detailing its breaches and apologise to workers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman recovered $1,212,727 in unpaid wages for 1351 workers in the fast food, restaurant, café and retail sectors prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between December 2018 and March 2020, Fair Work Inspectors targeted popular food precincts in Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as revisiting food and retail businesses around the country that had previously breached workplace laws.

The FWO conducted a series of intelligence-led proactive investigations targeting these high-risk sectors, which commonly rely on potentially vulnerable young workers such as university students.

Inspectors investigated 49 fast food, café and restaurant businesses in Melbourne’s Degraves Street and Hardware Lane. In Brisbane’s West End, inspectors investigated a total of 44 businesses.

Food precinct businesses were selected because the FWO’s intelligence, including anonymous reports, suggested breaches of workplace laws.

The audits found that 84 per cent of businesses investigated in the Melbourne laneways food precincts and 88 per cent of those investigated in Brisbane’s West End were not compliant with Australia’s workplace laws.

In total, the regulator recovered $194,365 for 186 Melbourne laneways workers and $309,073 for 369 Brisbane West End workers. Total underpayments per business ranged from $30 to $59,680 in Melbourne and $377 to $65,215 in Brisbane.

The FWO’s national food and retail investigations also assessed another 171 businesses, finding a 71 per cent non-compliance rate, with inspectors recovering $709,289 for 796 workers. These workers were engaged in roles such as chefs, cooks, waiters and retail assistants.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the low rates of compliance were unacceptable.

“While we know some of our priority sectors, including many fast food, restaurant and café businesses, have been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are under considerable financial strain, we will continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate way,” Ms Parker said.

“We will focus on ensuring that any underpayments of workers are back-paid promptly, and where serious non-compliance is found, we will take enforcement action.”

“Competitive dining strips commonly rely on workers who are young, students or visa holders. We will continue to protect such vulnerable employees by holding employers to account.”

In response to workplace law breaches identified in the Melbourne laneways and Brisbane’s West End food precincts, the FWO issued one contravention letter, 19 formal cautions, 51 infringement notices (with total penalties of $101,220), and 42 compliance notices.

The FWO also recently commenced legal action against a company (and a company director) identified that operate the Little Cupcakes stores at locations including Degraves Street in Melbourne.

In response to breaches found in the national food and retail investigations, the FWO issued 11 contravention letters, 10 formal cautions, 16 infringement notices (with total penalties of $31,290), and 85 compliance notices.

The most common contraventions across the investigations were failures to correctly pay penalty rates, followed by underpayments of the minimum hourly wage.

Inspectors reported that the most common reason given for non-compliance was lack of awareness of all workplace obligations (64 per cent across Melbourne and Brisbane, 51 per cent in national investigations).

“A lack of awareness is not a valid excuse for a business to breach workplace laws. The FWO expects all employers to comply with workplace obligations and to access our free tools and resources if they need assistance. Any employees with concerns about their pay should contact us,” Ms Parker said.

Several businesses remain under investigation and may face legal proceedings. Other non-compliant businesses were advised that future breaches will likely lead to enforcement action. The FWO continues to enforce workplace laws in a reasonable and proportionate manner during the pandemic.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has secured $276,929 in penalties in the Federal Circuit Court against the former operators of two Hello Juice outlets in Victoria for deliberately exploiting employees.

Skypic Group Pty Ltd and Skypac Group Pty Ltd – which operated Hello Juice outlets in shopping centres at Geelong and Werribee until April 2019 and March 2020 respectively – have been penalised $161,988.75 and $80,325 respectively.

Victorian woman Hua Gong, who was the general manager of both stores, has been penalised an additional $34,616.

In total, 27 employees were underpaid a total of $38,458 over various periods in 2017, including ten juniors under the age of 18. Workers at the Werribee store were underpaid $23,902.47 and workers at the Geelong store were underpaid $14,555.64. Employees have been back-paid.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the matter demonstrates that serious consequences apply for underpayment of employees’ basic lawful entitlements.

“Enforcing compliance with workplace laws in the fast food, restaurant and cafe sector, which employs many vulnerable workers, continues to be a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman.”

“Employers in this sector are on notice that they need to comply with workplace laws. The FWO expects all employers to comply with workplace obligations and they should access our free tools and resources if they need assistance. Any employees with queries about pay should contact us,” Ms Parker said.

During an auditing activity, the Fair Work Ombudsman found that employees had been paid low, flat rates, resulting in underpayment of the ordinary hourly rates, casual loadings and penalty rates for weekend and public holiday work they were entitled to under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010. Some employees were paid as low as $10 per hour.

Ms Gong and Skypac Group Pty Ltd also breached laws relating to cash-back arrangements on two separate occasions by requesting a worker aged in her 30s at the Werribee store to pay amounts totalling $4,942.19 to cover part of a rectification payment and a tax refund payment made to her ($1,300 of which was paid).

In addition, Ms Gong and both companies breached workplace laws relating to pay slips and record-keeping. Skypic Group and Ms Gong also breached laws by failing to comply with a Notice to Produce records or documents, and Skypac Group and Ms Gong were held to have provided inspectors with false or misleading records.

Judge John O’Sullivan said Skypac and Skypic had previously been put on notice to comply with workplace laws, the breaches were serious and deliberate, and the penalties should “act as a deterrent to others who may be minded to flout the law”.

Judge O’Sullivan also made a general comment that: “It is also an illustration of, an all too common, a phenomena where employers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who exploit workers (including, or especially, from within their own ethnic communities) and then come before the Court and seek to rely on their own alleged ignorance of workplace laws or foreign cultural norms to mitigate any penalties that need to be applied when they are finally caught out”.

NOTE: Skypac Group Pty Ltd and Skypic Group Pty Ltd no longer operate the Hello Juice outlets in Werribee and Geelong respectively.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $233,087 in unpaid wages for 353 workers following an investigation into 19 outlets of fried chicken chain Gami Chicken & Beer.

Prior to the pandemic, Fair Work Inspectors made surprise visits to 15 outlets in Melbourne, two in Sydney and two in Perth last year, after the regulator received large numbers of requests for assistance and anonymous reports from workers about potential breaches of workplace laws.

Many of the contacts came from young and migrant employees, who the Fair Work Ombudsman knows can be potentially vulnerable due to age, visa status and reliance on a local job for income.

The franchisor operated six of the outlets visited, with the remainder operated by franchisees. Inspectors interviewed employees, managers and store owners on the ground and checked employment records and payslips.

The regulator found that all 19 of the audited outlets had underpaid employees, and 15 were not meeting payslip and record-keeping obligations. The most common breaches found were underpaying penalty rates (33 per cent) and underpaying the minimum hourly rate (13 per cent).

Inspectors reported that the most common reason given by employers for non-compliance was a lack of awareness of all workplace obligations (68 per cent).

In total, $216,847 was recovered for 241 Melbourne workers, $6,879 for 43 Sydney workers and $6,779 for 55 Perth employees. Recoveries from individual businesses ranged from $1,129 for eight employees in a Sydney business to $49,069 for 17 employees in a Melbourne business.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the high rates of non-compliance were unacceptable.

“Inspectors found that Gami Chicken & Beer operators had simply not prioritised meeting their lawful obligations to their workers,” Ms Parker said.

“A lack of awareness is not a valid excuse for a business to breach workplace laws. The FWO expects all employers to comply with workplace obligations and they should access our free tools and resources if they need assistance. Any employees with queries about pay should contact us.”

“Improving compliance among franchises in the fast food, restaurant and café industry, who employ many vulnerable workers, continues to be a priority for us,” Ms Parker said.

In response to the breaches, inspectors issued 18 compliance notices requiring employers to rectify breaches of the law, resulting in $233,087 back-paid to workers. There were 10 formal cautions, and nine on-the-spot fines with penalties totalling $25,410.

One business remains under investigation and may face legal proceedings.

The other businesses were advised that future breaches will likely lead to enforcement action. The FWO continues to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the pandemic.

20 August 2020

 The Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced action in the Federal Court against operators of three popular Taiwanese restaurants for allegedly underpaying vulnerable workers and using false records.

Facing court is DTF World Square Pty Ltd, which employed workers at Din Tai Fung restaurants at the World Square shopping centre in the Sydney CBDChatswood and Emporium shopping centre in the Melbourne CBD. Also facing court is Selden Farlane Lachlan Investments Pty Ltd, which employed workers at the Emporium store.

Both companies are part of a broader group of companies that operates Din Tai Fung restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne.

The court action has also been started against a former director of both companies Mr Dendy Harjanto, General Manager Ms Hannah Handoko (also known as Vera Handoko), and HR Coordinator Ms Sinthiana Parmenas for their alleged involvement in some breaches.

The FWO alleges the two companies underpaid a combined 17 employees $157,025. Underpaid employees included cooks, waiters, a dishwasher and restaurant managers. Most were visa holders from Indonesia and China, mainly on student or employer-sponsored visas. The four full-time employees were sponsored by DTF World Square Pty Ltd.  Ten workers were under 26 at the start of their alleged underpayment period.

The two companies allegedly kept and provided to Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors both accurate and false records, with false records generally understating hours worked and including false rates of pay for casual employees.

It is alleged that contraventions relating to false records and the underpayment of casual loading and weekend and public holiday penalty rates to casual employees were serious contraventions under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the Protecting Vulnerable Workers amendments to the Fair Work Act raised the penalties for employers who are found to have deliberately and systematically contravened the law.

“Employers are on notice that the Fair Work Ombudsman is making use of the Protecting Vulnerable Workers amendments to the Fair Work Act to hold to account those who commit serious contraventions,” Ms Parker said.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman prioritises matters involving migrant workers, who we know can be heavily reliant on their employer and have limited understanding of their workplace rights. We encourage workers with concerns to contact us, including anonymously.”

It is alleged the flat hourly rates paid to 13 casual workers and fortnightly salaries paid to four full-time staff did not meet various entitlements including minimum rates for ordinary hours, penalty rates for weekend, public holiday and evening hours, and overtime rates owed under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010. It is also alleged casual loading entitlements were underpaid.

It is alleged underpayments occurred between November 2017 and June 2018, with the exception of one full-time employee, the highest underpaid, whose underpayment was assessed for a longer period from July 2014 to May 2018. Individual underpayments allegedly ranged from $2,165 to $50,588. Most of the highest underpaid worker’s alleged underpayments related to unpaid overtime.

Ms Parker said that the Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two companies each face Court penalties of up to $630,000 per serious contravention and $63,000 per other contravention, and the accessories up to $12,600 per contravention. The matter is listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Court in Sydney on 28 September 2020.

BaptistCare NSW & ACT is back-paying employees more than $1 million and has entered into an Enforceable Undertaking (DOCX 110.8KB) (PDF 1.2MB) with the Fair Work Ombudsman in order to address its non-compliance.

The registered charity, which runs 17 residential aged care facilities as well as other related community services, self-reported that it underpaid more than 2000 current and former employees working in front line caring roles.

The affected employees were shift workers who were covered by the Baptist Community Services Age Care Enterprise Agreement 2011 and the BaptistCare NSW & ACT Aged Care Enterprise Agreement 2014.

As shift workers, under the Agreements the affected employees were entitled to an extra week of annual leave each year.

The underpayments were identified after the organisation discovered that it had failed to provide all the shift workers with the required additional annual leave, and the corresponding annual leave loading, since the implementation of the 2011 Agreement.

BaptistCare NSW & ACT underpaid 2146 workers a total of $1.279 million, which includes superannuation, between February 2012 and July 2018. Individual underpayments range from less than $5 to more than $4000.

While BaptistCare NSW & ACT has already back-paid the majority of workers, the Enforceable Undertaking requires the organisation to pay any outstanding amounts to former employees within 180 days, as well as a range of other obligations to ensure future compliance.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that an Enforceable Undertaking was appropriate, as the organisation had cooperated with the investigation and demonstrated a strong commitment to rectifying and remedying all the underpayments owed to its workers.

“The Enforceable Undertaking commits BaptistCare NSW & ACT to stringent measures to protecting its employees, including funding external audits over the next two years and reporting to us on upgrades to its payroll and related systems,” Ms Parker said.

“This matter serves as a warning to all organisations that if you don’t prioritise workplace compliance, you risk underpaying staff on a large scale and face not only a massive administrative and logistical exercise but the cost of a significant back-payment bill. You also risk having to undertake further audits that satisfy the FWO that you are continuing to pay your workers properly. Any employers who need help meeting their lawful workplace obligations should contact us.”

Under the Enforceable Undertaking, BaptistCare NSW & ACT will make a $40,000 contrition payment into the Commonwealth’s Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The organisation must fund an independent organisation to operate a Hotline for the next four months that employees can use to make enquiries in relation to their entitlements, underpayments or related employment concerns. Employees will have the option of making enquiries on a confidential basis. BaptistCare NSW & ACT is also required to display public, workplace and online notices detailing its workplace law breaches and apologise to workers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $431,875 in wages for 487 underpaid workers after conducting surprise audits in the Geelong area as part of its series of regional university cities proactive investigations.

The FWO commenced the audits as part of a program of intelligence-led activity targeting high risk sectors, such as the takeaway food, restaurant, cafe and retail sectors, which commonly rely on vulnerable young workers such as university students. In the Geelong area, businesses were selected in suburbs close to tertiary institutions because FWO’s intelligence, such as anonymous reports, suggested they may have breached workplace laws.

Fair Work Inspectors investigated 132 businesses in the period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and found 77 per cent of businesses (102) failed to comply with workplace laws. Of those businesses in breach, more than half (52 per cent) both underpaid staff and breached pay slip or record-keeping obligations.

The most common breaches identified were failures to correctly pay penalty rates, followed by underpayments of the minimum hourly wage.

The most common reason given for non-compliance was a lack of awareness of workplace obligations (55 per cent). Wage back-payments by businesses ranged from $3 up to $52,558.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the low rate of compliance was disappointing.

“The level of breaches of workplace laws identified in these areas and sectors of Geelong is unacceptable, particularly the breaches involving young workers and students who we know are potentially vulnerable due to their age, visa status and reliance on local jobs,” Ms Parker said.

“A lack of awareness is not a valid reason to breach workplace laws. The FWO expects all employers to comply with workplace obligations and to use our wealth of free tools and resources if they need help. Workers with concerns should contact us.”

The FWO has prioritised compliance in the fast food, restaurant and cafe industry and has a suite of interactive tools to help employers and employees. This includes information on base rates and penalty rates.

“Employers should regularly use our free pay calculator to check they’re doing the right thing by their staff, and access other resources including the Small Business Showcase,” Ms Parker said.

In response to the breaches, the FWO issued seven contravention letters, 14 formal cautions, 61 infringement notices (with total penalties of $110,460), and 65 compliance notices. These compliance notices led to $398,818 being back-paid to 445 employees.

One business remains under investigation for serious non-compliance and may face legal proceedings. Other non-compliant businesses were advised that future breaches will likely lead to enforcement action. The FWO continues to enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the pandemic.

The FWO has previously audited businesses in Albury/Wodonga, Wollongong and Ballarat as part of its rolling regional university cities proactive investigations.