The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $189,316 in wages for 306 underpaid workers after it investigated employers in a ‘cheap eats’ food precinct in Adelaide.
Fair Work Inspectors targeted 58 businesses in and around Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct and found that 83 per cent failed to comply with workplace laws.
Businesses were selected for investigation based on their risk of breaching workplace laws, with the factors considered being a history of non-compliance with the FWO, being the subject of anonymous tip-offs to the regulator, or employing migrant workers who can be vulnerable to exploitation.
Of the 48 businesses found to be in breach, 42 had underpaid their workers and 24 had failed to meet pay slip and record-keeping requirements.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the unannounced audits were part of a national program that has targeted cheap eats precincts in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, the Gold Coast, Perth, Darwin, Hobart and Launceston.
“It is disappointing to consistently find high rates of non-compliance in the fast food, restaurant and cafés sector. Employers can’t pick and choose which wage laws they follow and those doing the wrong thing are being found out.”
“Protecting vulnerable workers such as visa holders and improving compliance in the sector are ongoing priorities for the Fair Work Ombudsman,” Ms Parker said.
“We expect all employers to comply with their obligations to their workers and to use our range of free tools and resources if they need help. Any workers with wages concerns should contact us.”
The most common breaches found were the failure to pay penalty rates (33 businesses), followed by underpayment of the minimum hourly rate of pay (25 businesses).
In total, Adelaide businesses back-paid 306 employees, with the largest recovery being $32,835 from one business for one employee with an annualised salary issue.
In response to the breaches, the FWO issued 43 Compliance Notices to 41 businesses, recovering $188,548 for 301 workers. There were 31 Infringement Notices issued for pay slip and record-keeping breaches, resulting in $31,296 in fines paid. One business remains under investigation.
All other non-compliant businesses were advised that any future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement action by the Fair Work Ombudsman.