Audit shows widespread wage theft

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FOLLOWING a random audit from the Fair Work Ombudsman, 40 per cent of audited businesses in Canberra have failed to meet workplace legal obligations after a second warning. 

Natalie James.
The businesses were audited to see if they were paying workers correctly and whether they were meeting record-keeping and pay slip obligations.

The audits found; 16 businesses had breaches relating to pay rates; 11 businesses had breaches relating to record-keeping and pay slips; and five businesses had breaches relating to pay rates and record-keeping/pay slips.

During the audit $31,087 was recovered on behalf of 120 workers. The Fair Work Ombudsman also initiated litigation against two local businesses.

The former operators of Café on Benjamin in Belconnen – Global Trading and Investment Group Pty Ltd, and its former director Dr Nathem Al-Naser, was penalised $56,840 in the Federal Circuit Court after admitting they failed to keep employee records or issue pay slips to workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says the ombudsman treats cases involving record-keeping breaches seriously.

“While Fair Work inspectors go to great lengths to reconstruct time and wage records in circumstances where the employer has failed to meet their obligations, the sad reality is that sometimes in the absence of accurate records, it is not possible to establish whether a worker has received their lawful pay,” she says. 

“This is why we take these matters to court and encourage employees to keep a work diary or to use our new Record My Hours Smartphone App.

“We also welcome recent changes to workplace laws that increase the maximum penalties for employers who breach record-keeping laws.”

Secretary of UnionsACT Alex White, secretary of UnionsACT says no one can deny that wage theft and unlawful behaviour by employers is widespread.

“Not only are these unscrupulous employers preying on their staff, but they are unfairly competing with the sixty percent of businesses that do the right thing,” he says. 

“If you believe you are not being paid correctly, contact your union today.”

Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94

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