Australian cleaning contractors have been called on again to pay greater attention to wage rates following a Fair Work Ombudsman national campaign that found cleaning businesses were continuing to short-change their workers.
‘Fair Work inspectors recovered another $17,000 for 59 cleaners following auditing of 54 employers nationally. The businesses were assessed to monitor compliance with minimum wage rates, penalty rates, allowances, overtime, pay-slip and record-keeping obligations’.
Audits by the Fair Work Ombudsman also revealed that 33 per cent of cleaning businesses were incorrectly paying their workers, 18 of which had previously been found to be non-compliant.
“All 18 businesses were issued with formal Letters of Caution about their behaviour and two companies received on-the-spot fines,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.
“They are all now on notice that continuing breaches of workplace law may result in enforcement action.”
‘Last financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman received more than 7600 calls from cleaners concerned about their wages and entitlements. The agency also dealt with 500 requests for assistance from cleaners, recording an overall contravention rate of 40 per cent.’
Ms James acknowledged that “competitive tendering and tight profit margins may have compromised the ability of some cleaning businesses to meet their compliance obligations”.
“However, employers could not look to cut costs by under-cutting and ignoring minimum wage rates,” she warned.
“If further contraventions of workplace laws are identified, enforcement measures, including legal action, will be considered.”
‘According to the last Census, almost two-third of cleaners are female and almost 40 per cent of employees were born overseas. Many are international students.’
Because of this, Ms James described the cleaning workforce to be considered as “a vulnerable cohort and open to exploitation by unscrupulous operators”.
Employers who are concerned about whether their workplace practices were appropriate are encouraged to visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.
Cleaning businesses that are found to be non-compliant will be re-audited again as part of a National Compliance Monitoring Campaign.