The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $404,721 in wages for 623 underpaid workers after investigating employers in Brisbane’s food precincts.
Fair Work Inspectors investigated 77 businesses across a range of suburbs, including Brisbane CBD, South Brisbane, Fortitude Valley and Sunnybank. They found 75 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 58 businesses found to be in breach, 53 had underpaid their workers and 26 had failed to meet pay slip and record-keeping requirements.
The most common breaches found were the failure to pay penalty rates or casual loading (40 businesses), followed by underpayment of the minimum hourly rate of pay (37 businesses) and breaches of pay slip laws (19 businesses).
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the inspections were part of a national program that has targeted food precincts in Brisbane’s West End and Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart and Launceston, and recovered more than $2 million for workers.
“Uncovering high levels of non-compliance in Brisbane’s fast food, restaurant and café sector, as the FWO has nationwide, is disappointing. Employers can’t pick and choose which wage laws they follow and those doing the wrong thing are being found out,” Ms Parker said.
“The Fair Work Ombudsman will continue to prioritise improving compliance in this sector, which we know employs many young workers and visa holders who can each be vulnerable.”
“Employers can use our free tools and resources if they need assistance meeting their obligations. Workers with concerns about their pay or entitlement should come forward for help,” Ms Parker said.
The largest recovery from one business was $80,258 for 68 full-time and part-time employees.
In response to the breaches, the FWO issued 49 Compliance Notices to 49 businesses, recovering $383,983 for 609 workers. There were 29 Infringement Notices issued for pay slip and record-keeping breaches, resulting in $78,932 paid in fines. Matters are ongoing in relation to two businesses.
Non-compliant businesses were told that any future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.