Restaurants and cafes along a popular dining strip in Melbourne’s CBD have been raided by inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman after allegations of widespread underpayments.
Inspectors are carrying out spot checks on at least 40 businesses along Degraves Street and Hardware Lane to ensure they are complying with workplace laws, including paying proper wages and entitlements, and keeping accurate employment records.
Raids come after complaints from workers
Fair Work says it is targeting the area after receiving numerous anonymous complaints from workers, in addition to media coverage alleging widespread wage theft in the eateries.
Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the audits are the latest of a number of proactive compliance activities focusing on popular food hubs.
“Protecting the rights of vulnerable workers in the fast food, restaurant and cafe sector is a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman,” she said.
“Successive activities in popular food precincts across Australia have revealed unacceptable breaches of workplace laws.”
Wage theft rife in hospitality industry
According to figures released by the Fair Work, the hospitality industry accounted for over a third of court actions for workplace breaches, and 40 per cent of all anonymous reports to the agency, despite representing just seven percent of the workforce.
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, says wage theft is rife in the hospitality industry.
“Many hospo workers are young, or students or visa holders, so that makes them particularly vulnerable to exploitation,” he said.
“They are either unaware of their workplace rights, or they are too afraid to complain, so dodgy businesses get away with ripping them off.”
The Fair Work Ombudsman has vowed to take enforcement action against any businesses found to be breaking workplace laws.
“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,” Ms Parker said.
A report on the campaign’s findings will be published once the activity is completed.
If you are not being paid your correct wages and entitlements, or are considering legal action to recover stolen wages, we can help.
Please call our team at Industrial Relations Claims today on
1300 045 466