Ipswich workers win back $100,000 following audits

IPSWICH workers dudded out of more than $100,000 in wages have been repaid following a massive audit by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Out of 212 Ipswich businesses subject to the audit, 53 were found to have underpaid workers.

In total, the Ombudsman recovered $104,793 for 166 employees.

Nearly 1000 workers across regional Queensland, NSW and Victoria were back paid more than $580,000 after Fair Work Inspectors uncovered widespread non-compliance with Australia's workplace laws.

Inspectors visited 385 businesses, with a cross-section of industries targeted.

The inspectors particularly targeted accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors.

Inspectors found 22 per cent of all audited business failed to pay their employees correctly, 15 per cent were in breach of non-monetary obligations by not providing proper payslips or keeping proper employment records, and six per cent failed to both pay their employees correctly and meet their non-monetary obligations.

The FWO recovered an average of about $600 for each underpaid employee. The most common breach of workplace laws was underpayment of the minimum hourly rate, with inspectors also uncovering underpayment of overtime and penalty rates.

Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says there is no excuse for underpaying workers.
Australia's Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says there is no excuse for underpaying workers.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator targeted regions based on intelligence.

"Fair Work Inspectors targeted specific regions after employees contacted us for help, many of whom could be vulnerable to workplace exploitation due to their youth or visa status. It is unacceptable that almost half of the businesses we visited were simply unaware of their obligations under workplace laws and were not paying the lawful minimum hourly wage," Ms Parker said.

"The FWO will revisit these businesses as part of our ongoing compliance monitoring programs. Appropriate compliance and enforcement action will be used against employers who continue to breach workplace laws."

In addition to recovering lost wages, inspectors issued 39 formal cautions, warning employers about the consequences of continued non-compliance, and 27 on-the-spot fines, which involved penalties of $5960 for breaches of pay-slip or record-keeping requirements.

Employees and employers can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 131394 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations at work.