Businesses in Cabramatta, Liverpool, Fairfield and surrounding areas will be targeted in a new compliance and workplace laws crackdown by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
At least 200 manufacturing, retail, construction and other businesses will be audited by inspectors looking for cases of worker exploitation.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James, said that with many workers engaged in low-skilled labour and coming from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, the workforce in the Sydney – South West region was particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
“Over the last two financial years, my agency has recovered more than $550,000 for 264 workers in this region,” Ms James said.
“We are conscious that workers in this region may face barriers to understanding workplace laws and to taking action to address workplace issues. This potentially makes them more susceptible to accepting sub-standard working conditions.”
Fair Work Inspectors are checking businesses’ wage and time records to ensure employers are complying with their workplace obligations.
Employers found to have minor issues caused by genuine mistakes will be provided with education and assistance to rectify their issues and improve their processes to ensure future compliance.
Businesses that refuse to co-operate or any examples of serious non-compliance may lead to enforcement action, including litigation.
As part of the campaign, Fair Work Inspectors are providing employers with advice and access to resources to assist them with understanding and meeting their obligations.
The agency is also focused on educating and assisting workers who are new to the workforce as business and employment opportunities in the region continue to grow.
“Through our proactive compliance and education campaigns we are seeking to ensure that employers fully understand Australian workplace laws and are well equipped to build a culture of compliance in their workplaces,” Ms James said.
“We have a range of free tools and information available to assist both employers and workers in this regard.”
The Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) provides advice about pay, shift, leave and redundancy entitlements and is available on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website at www.fairwork.gov.au.
The Fair Work Ombudsman recently launched the ‘Record My Hours’ smartphone app which is aimed at tackling the persistent problem of underpayment of vulnerable young workers by using geofencing technology to provide workers with a record of the time they spend at their workplace.
Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50. Small business operators can opt to receive priority service from the Small Business Helpline.