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Employer audits in Sydney’s food precincts have found $239,505 in employee underpayments for 333 underpaid workers.

Fair Work Inspectors investigated 49 businesses across Haymarket, Chinatown, Darling Harbour, Barangaroo, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst. In the 47 completed investigations, 77 per cent of businesses had breached workplace laws.

Businesses were selected for surprise inspections based on their risk of breaching workplace laws. At-risk businesses had a history of non-compliance with the FWO, had been the subject of anonymous tip-offs, or employed vulnerable visa holders.

Of the 36 businesses found to be in breach, 31 had underpaid their workers and 22 had failed to meet pay slip or record-keeping requirements.

The most common breaches found were underpaying minimum hourly rates (30 businesses), followed by failing to pay penalty rates (24 businesses) and breaches of pay slip laws (21 businesses).

The largest recovery from one business was $52,081 for 18 casuals and full-time employees.

In response to the breaches, the FWO issued a Compliance Notice each to 31 businesses, recovering $239,505 for 333 workers. There were 27 Infringement Notices issued for pay slip and record-keeping breaches, resulting in $90,354 in fines paid.

The regulator continues to investigate two businesses.

Non-compliant businesses were told that any future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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