Half of surveyed businesses breaching workplace laws

Australian Fair Work report: Widespread non-compliance in horticulture sector

In Australia, a Fair Work Ombudsman inquiry into workplaces was done along the nation’s Harvest Trail. Unfortunately it has found widespread non-compliance, with inspectors recovering more than $1 million in unpaid wages for over 2,500 workers.

The damning report reveals that during the inquiry, FWO took court action against eight employers for serious alleged breaches of the Fair Work Act, with four actions involving labour hire contractors. Six matters have now been finalised resulting in over $500,000 in penalties, and two remain before court.

Fair Work Inspectors also issued 150 formal cautions to employers, 132 infringement notices and 13 compliance notices for breaches of workplace laws during the inquiry, and entered into seven Enforceable Undertakings.

As part of the inquiry, inspectors investigated 638 businesses connected with the harvesting of various crops including citrus, grapes, strawberries, cherries, mushrooms, apples and tomatoes. There were 444 growers and 194 labour hire contractors investigated.

Inspectors found over half of these businesses breached workplace laws, including deliberate and significant underpayments of base pay rates, falsification of records, deliberate withholding of payslips, non-payments and unauthorised deductions.

Queenslandcountrylife.com.au reports that representatives of AUSVEG, the peak industry body (PIB) for the Australian vegetable and potato industries, are expected to hold a press conference to respond to the report in Brisbane.


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