Ombudsman gets tough on non-compliant businesses

Watchdog says it is doing more to hold non-compliant businesses to account for breaching workplace laws

February 1, 2013

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is getting tough on businesses found to have breached workplace laws to ensure court penalties and back-payment orders are upheld.

The FWO has initiated about 30 separate legal actions aimed at enforcing payment of outstanding court penalties and back-payment orders, such as issuing statutory demands, applying to wind-up non-compliant businesses and securing warrants for seizure of property, land, income and revenue of non-compliant businesses and directors.

Acting Chief Counsel Mark Davidson says the need to ensure the workplace rights of vulnerable, low-paid workers are respected is a motivating factor behind the approach.

"We resolve the large majority of non-compliance issues that come to our attention by assisting employers to voluntarily rectify their issues and correct their processes to ensure ongoing compliance, and no further action is necessary," he says.

"However, where employers commit deliberate or serious contraventions, or where they refuse to cooperate, we will consider litigation."

Davidson says most cases result in the courts issuing penalty and back-payment orders to deter repeat offences and to send a message to the community that workplace breaches will not be tolerated.

"Our efforts also benefit employers who are complying with workplace laws, because it helps them to compete on a level playing field," he says.

Davidson says the FWO will endeavour to secure compliance with court orders wherever appropriate.

"It is important that the small minority of recalcitrant employers and others who do not comply with court orders are aware that we are committed to doing everything within our power to ensure court orders secured against them are enforced," he says.

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