The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered more than half a billion dollars in underpaid wages in the 2021-22 financial year. The figures, revealed in the Ombudsman’s 2021-22 annual report, illustrate the aggressive way the regulator has targeted businesses this year.
The $532 million for 384,805 workers is triple the amount recovered in the previous financial year, and quadruple the year before that. More than half of the total recovered came from large corporate employers, who back-paid nearly $279 million to employees.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the agency hit a significant milestone, which was the culmination of years of work to address underpayments.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman has created an environment that expects large corporates to prioritise compliance. Combined with stronger, targeted compliance and enforcement action across all our work, the result has been another record amount of wages back in workers’ pockets,”`
“All employers must prioritise putting in place systems and getting the advice they need to ensure they are paying workers their lawful entitlements. Those who are doing the wrong thing, including large corporates, are being found out – and we don’t hesitate to take enforcement action where appropriate.” Ms Parker said.
While corporate underpayments represented a major share of this figure, it doesn’t mean that the Ombudsman isn’t targeting small and medium-sized enterprises. Indeed, surprise audits, which are typically targeted at small businesses, recovered more than $100 million dollars in underpayments for workers.
Fair Work has signaled that its aggressive attitude towards businesses suspected of underpaying their staff will continue this financial year. Ombudsman Parker has outlined target industries and areas which all businesses should be aware of.
“Our priorities for 2022-23, in addition to ongoing pandemic recovery support, are fast food, restaurants and cafés, large corporates, the university sector, agriculture, sham contracting and contract cleaning. Anyone with concerns about their workplace rights or obligations should contact us for free advice and assistance,” Ms Parker said.
Tanda’s Head of Product Compliance Andrew Stirling has explored these areas in detail in the Paysure Webinar Series. Various episodes of the series also outline how businesses can stay compliant in the face of these compliance trends.