Ombudsman has WA businesses in its sights

Workplace watchdog to randomly audit businesses in WA to make sure workers aren't being ripped off

February 17, 2010

Companies in the Western Australian regions of the Kimberley and Pilbara will be targeted by the workplace watchdog to ensure workers are being paid correctly.

The Fair Work Ombudsman sys it has put businesses in Broome, Karratha and Port Hedland on notice that they will be subject to random audits.

A team of inspectors will make surprise visits to up to 80 businesses over the next few weeks, and employers will be asked to open their books.

The audits will focus on employers’ record-keeping and pay slips to ensure they are complying with their legal obligations. Fair Work inspectors will also provide information and advice to employers.

Inspectors may launch a wider investigation if they do not think records are up to scratch or workers are being ripped off.

"Where we find records are not adequate or identify other non-compliance issues, we will provide information and assistance to employers and request they voluntarily rectify any problems," Fair Work Ombudsman WA Director Leigh Quealy says.

"In cases where they don’t, or where we suspect deliberate underpayments or other serious breaches have occurred, we may launch a full audit which could lead to court proceedings."

The maximum penalty for a breach of workplace law is $33,000.

Quealy says it is important workers understand there is an avenue they can turn to about workplace concerns.
He says complaints can be made confidentially.

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