Fair Work Ombudsman Targets Perth Eateries

The Fair Work Ombudsman is making surprise inspections of northern Perth fast food outlets, restaurants and cafes this week to check workers are getting the right pay and entitlements.

About 20 businesses have been targeted for inspection, including in the suburbs of Wanneroo and Joondalup.

Fair Work Inspectors are speaking with business owners, managers and employees on the ground, and requesting records.

Businesses were selected based on FWO intelligence including prior history of alleged non-compliance issues, employee tip-offs, or employment of vulnerable workers such as visa holders or young people. Most of the eateries are ‘cheap eats’ venues.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth, who attended some of Tuesday’s inspections, said protecting vulnerable workers and improving compliance in the fast food, restaurant and café sector were priorities for the regulator.

“Inspectors are on the ground in Perth this week speaking with employees and holding employers to account if they are not following workplace laws,” Ms Booth said.

“We won’t hesitate to take enforcement action if needed, and employers should be aware that some penalties have recently increased.

“These inspections are part of a national food precincts program where we’ve often found that low-cost dining comes at the expense of workers’ lawful wages.

“This sector engages many young workers and visa holders who can be vulnerable, as they are often unaware of their workplace rights or unwilling to speak up.

“We urge workers with concerns about wages and entitlements to reach out to us – including anonymously if preferred. Employers should access our free tools and resources to ensure they’re meeting their obligations, or contact the FWO directly for free advice.”

Inspectors are on alert for unlawfully low flat rates of pay; “off the books” employment arrangements; inadequate or missed breaks; non-payment of penalty rates and overtime rates; inadequate or false record-keeping and pay slips; and cashback schemes, in which employees are made to unlawfully pay back some of their wages, among other concerns.

The inspections are part of a national program that has recently recovered more than $680,000 in unpaid wages for workers in Melbourne’s inner south and inner west food precinct. It has previously targeted eateries in Melbourne’s Degraves Street and Hardware Lane, and Brisbane’s West End, Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Darwin, the Gold Coast, other suburbs of Perth, Newcastle, south-east Melbourne, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, south Brisbane, and recently, Canberra’s north and Queanbeyan, NSW.

The FWO has interactive tools to help employers and employees in the fast food, restaurant and café sector, and for any franchisees.

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