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Fair Work turns its back on everyday Aussies

  • July 14 2020
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Fair Work turns its back on everyday Aussies

By Cameron Micallef
July 14 2020

The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced that it is shifting from its hard-line underpayment approach due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead focusing on JobKeeper compliance over the next 12 months.

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Fair Work turns its back on everyday Aussies

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  • July 14 2020
  • Share

The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced that it is shifting from its hard-line underpayment approach due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead focusing on JobKeeper compliance over the next 12 months.

working people

Australian workplaces significantly impacted by COVID-19 have now been granted some reprieve by the Fair Work Ombudsman as it looks to adopt a degree of flexibility towards businesses due to the economic fallout of the health pandemic.

Ombudsman Sandra Parker noted that the workplace watchdog’s compliance and enforcement priorities have been informed by the coronavirus crisis, and bosses can expect a proportionate approach that takes into account their financial circumstances.

“Some of our priority sectors have been seriously impacted by the pandemic and are under considerable financial strain,” said Ms Parker.

“We are mindful that our regulatory efforts do not negatively affect already struggling industries, while also being sensitive to the nuances of each sector and the challenges each will face when recovering from disruption.

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“A business’ financial position and viability will be considered when deciding whether to commence litigation for serious non-compliance, or determining the size of any contrition payment included in any enforceable undertaking.”

However, JobKeeper compliance will now be a priority area for the Fair Work Ombudsman as it looks to uphold the integrity of the scheme.

“Due to the impact of COVID-19 on Australian workplaces, the number of employers and employees seeking our assistance has grown significantly,” Ms Parker said.

“In response, we have adjusted our services and prioritised allegations of serious non-compliance with workplace laws, including in relation to the JobKeeper scheme.”

Underpayments in the corporate sector will also continue to be a priority for Ms Parker’s office in 2020-21.

“More than 60 businesses have come forward to self-disclose workplace law breaches, with a total of half a billion dollars owed to workers – and that’s just what we know about,” Ms Parker said.

“Large organisations need to place a much higher priority on rigorously reviewing workplace relations systems to ensure that paying workers what they are entitled to becomes the norm.”

Priority areas

In the new financial year, the Fair Work Ombudsman will focus its efforts on the large corporate sector; fast food, restaurants and cafés; and the horticulture sector.

It will also prioritise franchise agreement issues and sham contracting.

Actions by the Fair Work Ombudsman can range from letters of caution, compliance notices and enforceable undertakings to litigation in the most serious circumstances.

Ms Parker said the agency will provide education, advice, tools and resources to small businesses and those hardest hit by COVID-19.

“Companies will benefit from early engagement and cooperation with the Fair Work Ombudsman, and we will take account of their financial circumstances in considering our response,” Ms Parker said.

Fair Work turns its back on everyday Aussies
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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