Non-compliant businesses, directors and accessories were penalised over $4.8 million in 2016-2017 according to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Annual Report. This is a 66% increase on the total penalties ordered in 2015-16 ($2.9 million).
In addition to the total amount of penalties significantly increasing, the Fair Work Ombudsman achieved the highest ever penalty in a single case during 2016-2017. Penalties of $532 910 were handed down in a matter that involved threats of violence, dismissal, withdrawal of support for the employee’s visa and demands that the employee pay back part of his wages in cash.
The increase in penalties reflect a significant increase in compliance audits by the Fair Work Ombudsman. By a growing number of Fair Work Inspectors. Coupled with the Courts having a low tolerance for employers, directors and accessories who breach Australian employment laws. The complexity of matters filed by the Fair Work Ombudsman has also increased.
Penalties will no doubt continue to rise with the new Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 now in force and giving the Fair Work Ombudsman significantly enhanced capacity to take action in cases of serious worker exploitation.
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