The Fair Work Ombudsman will target at least 200 businesses in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs as part of a new campaign.
Fair Work Inspectors will check that employers are paying the correct minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, allowances and loadings and providing appropriate meal breaks.
Compliance with record-keeping and pay-slip obligations will also being checked.
Fair Work Inspectors will target a cross-section of businesses in Hawthorn, Kew, Camberwell, Doncaster and surrounding suburbs to ensure that they are complying with their workplace obligations.
The region is being targeted primarily due to the vulnerability of its workforce, with the large numbers of young workers and a significant culturally and linguistically diverse community. Thirty-one per cent of the population speaks a language other than English at home.
The Fair Work Ombudsman says “Around one-fifth of the workforce in Melbourne’s inner east is aged between 15-24, yet this cohort makes up almost 30 per cent of the disputes we receive from this area,”
This ranks the region ninth in the country in terms of the proportion of disputes received from young workers. Most of these disputes relate to the cafe, restaurant and takeaway foods sectors.
“Young workers can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace due to their lack of work experience and limited understanding of their workplace entitlements,” The Fair Work Ombudsman said.
With the region projected to experience strong growth over coming years, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s proactive compliance activities will also help to ensure that new businesses entering the labour market fully understand and comply with workplace laws.
Businesses across a range of industries will be audited, including those in the retail trade, accommodation and food services and education and training industries.
Last financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman received 244 disputes from Melbourne’s inner east region. The agency recovered more than $530,000 for 141 workers in the region during the same period.
Inspectors would be on the lookout for any instances of non-compliance and will take appropriate action in response to any identified breaches.
“We have a range of tools at our disposal, from letters of caution and on-the-spot fines to litigation in the courts for the most serious cases,” the Fair Work Ombudsman said.
“With maximum penalties for certain workplace contraventions recently increasing by up to ten times, employers must be aware that serious breaches of the law can expose them to big fines.
“Employers should be on notice that they cannot get away with deliberately flouting workplace laws.”
Do you know your legal obligations?
Most businesses – including small businesses – are now covered by the Fair Work Act 2009.
Fair Work Inspectors appointed the Fair Work Ombudsman have the power to enter a workplace at any time to inspect records and ensure compliance.
Employers risk big penalties for each breach of the Fair Work Act 2009.
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