The Fair Work Ombudsman is conducting a blitz through cafe hotspots in Melbourne after receiving an influx of anonymous tip-offs that businesses are ripping off workers.
At least 40 businesses on Degraves Street and Hardware Lane face audits as inspectors make their way through the dining strips, examining employment records.
It follows claims from union Hospo Voice in October that Degraves Street is a “den of thieves”, with some workers paid as little as $11 an hour.
Prices on the dining strip are also extremely competitive. One popular bread roll shop sells almost foot-long sandwiches for just $6.50.
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Fair work ombudsman Sandra Parker said food hubs were proving ripe pickings for Fair Work Act breaches.
“Our audits have established a link between prices and wage underpayments and it is clear that the true cost of cheap food may be the employees’ lawful entitlements. We will take enforcement action if today’s audits find serious breaches of workplace laws,” Parker said in a statement on Tuesday.
“With several higher education institutes located in and around the Melbourne CBD, a large proportion of students live and work in the area. Our inspectors will educate workers about their workplace rights and empower them to seek help with any workplace issues,” Parker said.
Some businesses on the strip have disputed the claims though. Back in October, Tiny Cupcakes denied a claim it underpaid a worker by over $7,000.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has said it will publish a report on the compliance undertaking once completed, as it has for similar raids in Sydney and Brisbane this year.