The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Sandra Parker, has given an indication of the priorities for 2021-22.
The contract cleaning sector is a new area of focus for the FWO, as well as fast food, restaurants, cafes and the horticulture industry who have been targets in previous years.
Large corporate underpayments will also continue to remain a focus of the FWO, with Parker saying that the FWO is “investigating more than 80 corporate sector employers for underpayments of workers.”
Additionally, the FWO will continue to remain vigilant in the areas of franchising as well as sham contracting.
What does this mean for businesses in those industries?
Businesses that fall under the industries named by the FWO should be taking a close look at their own employment compliance responsibilities. While the FWO’s approach will not ensure that your business will be audited, the chances of it happening will increase.
Finding and rectifying the issues yourself, as opposed to the FWO doing it, should mean that you will not have to face a fine. Furthermore, you can avoid the damage to your business reputation if you were found to be underpaying employees. In many situations, this can actually be worse than the monetary loss from the underpayments and/or any fines the FWO hands down.
Even if your business and the industry you operate within is not mentioned by the FWO, it is not a reason to be complacent. The FWO does not limit itself to those few industries that they mentioned and will still impose harsh penalties for any business found to be recklessly underpaying employees.
How does it relate to small businesses?
Parker identified small businesses as crucial to rebuilding the economy which has been heavily-impacted by COVID and the restrictions and limitations it placed on businesses. Furthermore, employees working in these small businesses will be crucial to this, so it is important that they are remunerated correctly.
Small businesses are also more susceptible to underpaying employees and being employment non-compliant, as they generally do not have the necessary training or experience in human resources or employee relations to be fully aware of, and correctly follow, all the relevant employment laws.
How can you assure your business is compliant?
These FWO announcements are another example of why it is so important to be employment compliant and pay your employees correctly.
Often, if there is an issue in your payroll or employment compliance, it could have been happening for many years prior. This will mean that you will have to go back through records and identify where you have underpaid and rectify the unpaid wages.
Audits are a useful way to identify any underpayments, plus finding the mistakes causing them. Audits, however, are limited in scope and can be expensive if you need to audit a large number of employees or across a long time period. That is why we created WageSafe.
WageSafe is an automated payroll audit that can check your payroll, virtually in real time, to identify any under or over-payments. WageSafe securely connects to your payroll, time and attendance, and any other relevant systems to automate your payroll audit processes.
Due to this automation, WageSafe can be significantly cheaper than a traditional payroll audits, particularly for larger organisations. If our automated solution isn’t right for your organisation, we can also offer you our more traditional, manual payroll audit services.
Make sure to take a look at the video below!