Industrial Relations Claims is once again calling for wage theft to be criminalised, after a recent auditing campaign by the Fair Work Ombudsman in Adelaide found almost half of targetted businesses are not complying with workplace laws.
The audit focussed on outlets across the CBD, and the surrounding suburbs of North Adelaide, Kent Town, Brompton and Norwood.
Fair Work inspectors found that 36 (29 percent) of the audited businesses were not paying their employees their correct wages and entitlements.
In addition, 29 (23 percent) of audited businesses had contravened record keeping and payslip requirements.
As a result of the campaign, $54,701 in wages and entitlements was recovered for 113 workers.
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Industrial Relations Claims, said he wasn’t surprised with what the Ombudsman uncovered.
“It is a well known fact that wage theft is rife across many industries – in fact it is at epidemic proportions,” he said.
“The Ombudsman has only looked at around 100 businesses in this operation, and found almost half are doing the wrong thing – considering there are 800,000 businesses in Australia that employ people, you can just imagine the true extent of the problem nationwide.”
Fair Work inspectors issued seven formal cautions, six on-the-spot fines, and three compliance notices.
The Ombudsman has promised it will follow up with additional audits for those businesses that were found to be non-compliant.
“It’s time state and federal government’s toughened up and introduced legislation to make wage theft a criminal offence – just like all other forms of theft – until then, we’re not going to see anything change,” Mr Heffernan said.
“I’m afraid the efforts of the Ombudsman, as noble as they are, are nothing more than a drop in the ocean.”
For more information on wage theft and underpayments, please click here.
If you haven’t been paid your correct wages or entitlements, we can help. Please call Industrial Relations Claims on 1300 853 837 for expert and confidential advice.
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