Fair Work Ombudsman Crackdown On Dodgy Job Ads

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s crackdown on illegal job advertisements has led to employers being hit with more than $89,000 in fines, with job websites also called upon to do better.

Fair Work Inspectors have issued 151 Infringement Notices (fines) to employers since March 2023 when the national workplace regulator received the power to issue fines on employers who post job ads offering illegally low rates of pay.

In one example, the FWO received an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public, which alleged that ads for full-time/part-time bar staff positions were being posted by a hospitality business, offering just $7 to $10.50 an hour.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the regulator would write to major online job websites to make clear both FWO and the public expect them to play their part in stamping out unlawful ads and to seek their cooperation with the FWO’s compliance activities.

“Dodgy job ads are unlawful, and some of them are scams. We want to stop dodgy ads before they appear,” Ms Booth said.

“We are calling on all job websites to maximise awareness to employers, recruiters and the public about the importance of advertising legal minimum wages.

“We are also requesting job websites make it easier for employers to put legal wage rates in their ads, such as by allowing advertising employers to enter their own specific wage figures rather than having preset ranges.”

“Employers should do the right thing when recruiting their workforce – and those who break the law are paying the price.

“Advertising your intention to pay employees $7 per hour, for example, is precisely the sort of unacceptable conduct that the Fair Work Ombudsman wants to stamp out,” she said.

An inspector in the $7 per hour matter confirmed an ad on the company’s website was live and formed a reasonable belief the employer had contravened the Fair Work Act. The inspector issued a fine for $313 and the job ad was then removed from the website.

Fair Work Inspectors routinely search public job advertisement websites and contact employers both to issue Infringement Notices and provide education. The FWO is looking at ways to increase its capabilities to undertake wider scale surveillance of job ads and to detect non-compliant job ads through the use of enhanced detection tools.

Ms Booth said the regulator took dodgy job ads seriously, including because they often deliberately targeted vulnerable people, such as migrants.

“We want to stop exploitation at the earliest moment – and trying to take advantage of migrant workers who may be desperate for income or unaware of their rights is appalling,” she said.

The law bans employers from advertising pay rates that fail to meet the minimum rates required by the Fair Work Act or an industrial instrument (such as a modern award, enterprise agreement, workplace determination or Fair Work Commission order).

In another example, a Fair Work Inspector spotted an advertisement for a casual food and beverage attendant at a café with a pay rate as low as $13.36 per hour. When the inspector contacted the employer, they claimed the lowest range was “close” to the introductory rate for someone younger than 17 and they should “only receive a warning”.

The inspector said employers engaging staff to conduct recruitment activities are responsible to make sure those staff are educated as to the legal minimum rates of pay, and if a business is seeking junior employees, they need to make that clear in their ads.

The business paid their fine of $1,375. The employer was given further education and a couple of months later, rang the inspector to clarify the new ad to be placed was compliant.

Anyone can anonymously report a job ad – in English or another language – here through the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website. Include information about the job advertised; the pay rate or conditions being offered; where and when you saw the ad and a link if you have one.

Employers can get it right by reviewing information about prohibited ads on Job ads – Fair Work Ombudsman as well as using FWO’s pay calculator and Small Business Showcase. Small businesses can also self-assess compliance with this checklist.

/Public Release. View in full here.