Only half of 371 textile, clothing and footwear businesses targeted in a recent audit campaign were found to be obeying workplace laws.
The Fair Work Ombudsman recovered $84,846 for 138 workers following the audits across Australia.
Fair Work Inspectors audited the 371 businesses and found just 52 percent were compliant with all of their legal workplace obligations.
Businesses selected for audit were considered to be high risk of non-compliance, including those who had previous dealings with the FWO.
Inspectors conducted interviews and checked time and wages records and found that 22 percent of businesses weren’t paying their workers correctly.
Individual underpayments ranged from $8 to $10,319 for a worker who did not receive the required pay progressions over a six-year period.
Inspectors issued 107 formal cautions, 31 infringement notices and four compliance notices.
Industry rife with underpayments
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Industrial Relations Claims said the textile, clothing and footwear sector was rife with underpayments.
“The industry has a lot of migrants and older workers who are vulnerable to exploitation,” he said.
“The fact that Fair Work has been able to recover 80 grand in unpaid wages gives you an indication of just how much workers are being ripped off in the industry.”
Fair Work said the audits followed an education campaign which was designed to teach employers about the resources available from the agency to help business owners comply with workplace laws.
The textile, clothing and footwear sector employs 33,000 workers across more than 6,370 businesses.
If you have not been paid your proper wages and entitlements, we can help.
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