Legal, Management

Fair Work Ombudsman issues wages warning to SMEs

Michelle Hammond /

It’s been that revealed one in four takeaway businesses in Queensland are guilty of underpaying its workers, prompting the Fair Work Ombudsman to issue a wages warning to small businesses throughout Australia.

 

A recent audit of 129 businesses across the state, following a rise in complaints from food court workers, revealed takeaway businesses are among the worst offenders when it comes to paying the correct wages.

 

According to Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson, around 30% of the takeaway businesses that were audited were in breach of workplace laws.

 

However, Wilson believes many of these breaches are unintentional and is confident businesses will act accordingly.

 

“Very small businesses, such as those in food courts, are prepared to find out what they have to do and do the right thing by their employees,” Wilson said in a statement.

 

“On the other hand, it does mean that one in four aren’t paying what they should, [so] we would be encouraging employers to find out about their obligations.”

 

The news comes just one week after it was revealed that around two thirds of hotels and restaurants operating around Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula were in breach of workplace laws.

 

A total of 35 businesses were inspected after tip-offs that some operators may have been gaining an unfair competitive advantage by underpaying staff.

 

More than 20 of the businesses were found to have contravened laws, mostly from failing to pay correct wages or loadings and allowances.

 

Wilson said a total of $120,000 had been recouped for 119 employees across the region, including about $88,000 for 73 Sorrento employees who were not paid the minimum hourly rate, and almost $19,000 to 34 Mornington Peninsula staff who weren’t paid the proper minimum hourly rate or public holiday loadings.

 

One employee in Dromana recouped $9,500 while others in Mount Eliza, Carrum and Frankston also received money back.

 

Wilson said all of the businesses had co-operated with inspectors and voluntarily paid back their workers’ entitlements.

 

“They have also put processes in place to ensure these mistakes are not repeated in future, thus avoiding the need for any further action on our part,” he said.

 

In light of the findings, Wilson said small business owners need to familiarise themselves with their obligations.

 

The Fair Work Ombudsman provides a point of contact for people running a business to get accurate information about their workplace rights and obligations.

 

Business owners who require support to understand their obligations should visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

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