The Fair Work Ombudsman has swooped on record keeping and payslip breaches in Adelaide where it has fined 18 restaurants and massage shops.
The businesses were fined for “serious record-keeping and payslip breaches” and investigations are ongoing over possible underpayments of wages to foreign workers at many businesses.
Over the past month, Fair Work inspectors conducted surprise audits of 22 restaurants in Grote Street, Gouger Street and the central market food halls, as well as eight massage shops in the CBD, Unley, Eastwood, Oaklands Park, West Lakes and Norwood.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
Inspectors visited the businesses after a tip-off from the local Chinese Students United Association, which raised concerns with the Ombudsman that international students were being underpaid.
More than 90% of the businesses were found to be in breach of workplace laws relating to issuing payslips and keeping employment records.
Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Bill Loizides said some breaches were so blatant that inspectors took the rare measure of issuing on-the-spot penalty infringement notices.
Thirteen restaurants and five massage shops were penalised between $150 and $650 for breaches such as not keeping any time-and-wages records or issuing any payslips.
“Inspectors usually prefer to assist businesses to voluntarily rectify payslip and record-keeping issues and take no further action, but the breaches in this case were very serious,” Loizides said.
“The penalties imposed will hopefully send a message that blatantly disregarding payslip and record-keeping obligations is not acceptable.”
Loizides said Fair Work inspectors will be revisiting all these businesses and some others in the same areas over the next six months to ensure compliance with basic workplace obligations.
The Fair Work Ombudsman’s overseas workers team is also continuing to investigate possible underpayments of foreign workers, including many international students, at several of the restaurants and massage shops.
Matters being investigated include a waitress being paid as little as $8 an hour and massage shop workers being incorrectly classified as contractors instead of employees.
Loizides says the Ombudsman treats breaches of foreign workers’ rights particularly seriously because they can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their workplace rights or are reluctant to complain.
“All employees in Australia have basic entitlements, including the right to minimum pay and conditions,” he said.