The Fair Work Ombudsman has began auditing around 200 businesses in and around Mt Gambier, Renmark and Murray Bridge in South Australia as part of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s latest education and compliance campaign.
Fair Work Inspectors are checking wage and time records of a cross-section of businesses across the South Australia South East region, including those in the retail trade, accommodation and food services sectors.
According to Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James there are a large number of employees engaged in low-skilled work and a tightening of labour market conditions, workers in the region may experience particular vulnerabilities.
"Furthermore, the South Australia South East region has one of the highest rates of disputes lodged by visa holders nationally," James said.
"We know that overseas workers can be vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace due to factors including a lack of awareness about workplace rights and language barriers.
"My agency is undertaking this education and compliance campaign to reinforce to businesses in the region the importance of understanding and complying with their workplace obligations."
James said that over the two financial years from 2014-15 to 2015-16, the Ombudsman recovered more than $320,000 in back pay for 179 workers in the region.
Fair Work Inspectors will provide advice and assistance to non-compliant employers found to have minor issues caused by genuine mistakes. By educating businesses about their obligations and assisting them to improve their processes, the Fair Work Ombudsman believes it will build a culture of compliance in Australian workplaces.
"Where businesses refuse to cooperate with my agency, or where our inspectors identify instances of serious or deliberate non-compliance, we will ensure that appropriate action is taken to enforce the law," James said.
"Employers must be aware that deliberately flouting workplace laws can result in significant consequences."
Image supplied by Flickr cc: Feral Arts