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Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker has announced the regulator’s strategic priorities for the year ahead, which include supporting all workplaces through the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing large corporate underpayments.

Fast food, restaurants and cafes, horticulture and the harvest trail, franchisors, and sham contracting will continue to be a focus of the regulator’s compliance and enforcement activities.

Underpayments of staff in the corporate sector have become a significant issue of public concern and will continue to be a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman in 2020-21.

“More than 60 businesses have come forward to self-disclose workplace law breaches with a total of half a billion dollars owed to workers – and that’s just what we know about,” Ms Parker said.

“Earlier this year I wrote to the CEOs and Boards of the top listed companies across Australia, calling for immediate action to assure themselves, their shareholders, workers and the community that their companies are meeting lawful obligations under the Fair Work Act.”

“Large organisations need to place a much higher priority on rigorously reviewing workplace relations systems to ensure that paying workers what they are entitled to becomes the norm.”

Ms Parker said the FWO will enforce workplace laws in a proportionate manner during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Compliance and Enforcement Policy has been updated to reflect this.