FWO recovers $40 million for workers

Fair Work Inspectors recovered more than $40 million for 18,000 underpaid employees during the financial year.

Fair Work Inspectors recovered more than $40 million for 18,000 underpaid employees during the financial year – the highest total recoveries figure in the regulator’s history,

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s newly released 2018-19 Annual Report FWO resolved more than 29,000 workplace disputes between workers and businesses.

There was a record 17.8 million visits to its website and the Fair Work Infoline answered 380,000 calls from workers and employers.

The agency announced its annual compliance and enforcement priorities earlier in the year, and also strengthened its compliance and enforcement policy.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the agency’s achievements show its commitment to promoting harmonious, productive, cooperative and compliant workplace relations.

“I am extremely proud of the agency’s work resolving employment disputes throughout the year, which has helped return wages to workers and kept employment relationships intact.”

“In line with our priorities, we will continue our important work educating employers and employees, targeting high-risk industries, protecting vulnerable workers and improving compliance across Australian workplaces in the year ahead,” Parker said.

“We urge employers to actively check they are paying their staff correctly and access our free resources for help. We will take enforcement action against employers who break the law.”

The FWO had 67 matters before the courts as of 30 June 2019, in many cases alleging exploitation of vulnerable workers.

More than 80 per cent of new litigations involved protecting migrant workers, with the agency securing court penalties of $1.8 million in matters including this cohort.

The FWO secured more than $4.4 million in court-ordered penalties, including a record penalty of $105,000 for a business’s failure to comply with Fair Work Commission Orders.

More than 50 per cent of litigations filed involved businesses in the fast food, restaurants and cafe sector. The FWO secured $1.6 million in court penalties against employers in the sector.

Inspectors issued $479,900 in on-the-spot fines for pay slip and record-keeping breaches.

Anonymous reports to the FWO increased, with more than 16,000 reports received, which included more than 1200 reports made in languages other than English.

Inspectors conducted more than 2800 workplace audits, strategically targeting sectors at high risk of non-compliance.

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