Almost half of Darwin businesses are not paying proper wages, according to a recent audit.
The Fair Work Ombudsman conducted surprise inspections of 54 businesses across the city and suburbs.
For example, Winnellie, Parap and Larrakeyah, and found 25 failed to pay their employees correctly.
Furthermore, inspectors found another 16 failed to keep accurate records or failed to provide pay slips.
Darwin businesses not paying proper wages
In one case, inspectors found a cafe underpaid three employees a total of $4,988 over a period of 10 months.
The employer also failed to pay weekend penalty rates.
As a result of the audits, Fair Work recovered $20,722 in wages and entitlements owed to 44 workers.
Meanwhile, a similar campaign in Alice Springs recently found 39 percent of audited businesses contravened workplace laws.
Wage theft affects more than one million workers
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at IR Claims, says the results are further evidence that wage theft is rife across Australia.
“If you do the math, it’s clear that we are talking about a problem of epidemic proportions,” he said.
“Based on the audit results in Darwin and Alice Springs, in addition to recent audits in Adelaide too – half of businesses are doing the wrong thing.
“Translate that figure nationally, and we have about 400,000 businesses ripping off their staff.
“And furthermore, if you then consider many of those businesses employ three or more people, then that means more than one million workers are having their wages stolen.”
Businesses face heavy penalties
In response to the contraventions uncovered in Darwin, Fair Work inspectors issued:
- one formal caution;
- one compliance notice; and
- four on-the-spot fines.
Ombudsman Natalie James put offending businesses on notice, warning they face serious enforcement action for any future breaches.
“Employers should be aware that penalties for serious contraventions of workplace laws, as well as those for record-keeping breaches, have recently increased,” she said.
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