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26% of employers in the healthcare sector have been found to be non-compliant with Australian employment laws in a recent campaign by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

The FWO audited 696 employers across the medical services, allied health services and residential care services sectors. Businesses included GPs, physiotherapy services, dental services and retirement villages.

Fair Work Inspectors found that 15% were not paying their staff correctly and 14% were not-compliant with record keeping and payslip requirements.

The 696 audits led to the FWO issuing 16 infringement notices, 12 formal cautions and one compliance notice to non-compliant businesses. A total of $109,295 was recovered for employees.

With maximum penalties for serious contraventions of workplace laws recently increasing ten-fold and penalties for record-keeping breaches doubling, businesses that breach the law are exposing themselves to big fines.

In one matter, the agency recovered a total of $5770.94 for two casual employees of an optometrist business who were paid a flat rate of $20 per hour for all hours worked. Under the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010 at the time, the workers were entitled to $24.86 per hour on weekdays and $34.81 on Saturdays.

The Healthcare and Social Assistance industry is the largest employing industry in Australia with more than 1.5 million workers. It is characterised by large numbers of small businesses and high levels of part time and low skilled employees.

The residential care services sector also employs a high proportion of female and migrant workers.

Between July 2010 and June 2015 the FWO received 180,000 enquiries relating to the industry and over 5,700 requests for assistance. The agency has recovered $7 million for more than 5,000 employees since 2010.

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