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The Fair Work Ombudsman has continued to monitor workplace compliance in the horticulture industry with inspectors assessing over 260 businesses connected with the harvesting of various crops last year and earlier this year.

Fair Work Inspectors have also revisited businesses around the country that were found to be non-compliant during previous audits. Inspectors have also conducted investigations into employers operating in Queensland horticulture regions Wide Bay and Moreton Bay, following concerns of breaches.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said that improving compliance in the horticulture industry remained an agency priority.

Inspectors examined 245 businesses that had been found to be non-compliant during the nation-wide Harvest Trail Inquiry. Of that number, 162 were no longer operating (66%). Of the 83 businesses still operating in the sector and employing staff, inspectors found 38 businesses were non-compliant (45%).

Inspectors issued 22 Compliance Notices, recovering $64,134 for 279 employees. Seven infringement notices were issued for pay slip and time records breaches, with a total of $13,020 in penalties.

In addition, the Fair Work Ombudsman has worked closely with the ATO’s Phoenixing Taskforce in assessing whether any directors of the 162 entities no longer operating present a compliance risk.

Inspectors also investigated 14 labour hire providers and two growers in the Wide Bay and Moreton Bay regions. In Wide Bay, inspectors issued three Compliance Notices, with $5,591 recovered for 39 employees. Inspectors also checked on Seasonal Worker Programme employers in the region, finding no breaches of workplace laws by these employers.

In Moreton Bay, two infringement notices for pay slip breaches ($4,200 total penalties) and a letter of caution were issued. The Fair Work Ombudsman referred five labour hire providers to the Queensland Government’s Labour Hire Licence Compliance Unit, with all five later having their licences revoked.