Developing and maintaining a great workplace culture is underpinned by legal compliance. If workplace laws are not followed, employees will justifiably feel deceived, and be unmotivated to do the job.

As an employer, it is essential your business remains up-to-date and compliant with constantly evolving employment laws and practices.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has the power to investigate potential breaches of Australian workplace laws and take action. This can include workplace investigations, issuing of compliance or infringement notices, audits, and even litigation.

A breach of Australian workplace laws can result in company penalties ordered by a court. In extreme cases, some breaches are criminal offences which means an individual may be fined or even imprisoned.

Some recent examples of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s exercising its power include:

  • A Townsville café operator was penalised $9,000, and the company a further $45,000, for failing to comply with an order by the Fair Work Commission to compensate an employee $6,200 who was found to be unfairly dismissed.
  • A North Queensland business operator underpaid five back-packers in 2013 and 2014. The business operator was penalised $12,000, and the company a further $55,000. The Fair Work Ombudsman secured a freezing order against both the business operator and the company after both failed to pay the penalties owing. The Fair Work Ombudsman commenced legal action against the business operator who was sentenced to a 12-month jail term.
  • The operators of several pharmacies in and around Sydney were penalised $45,000 after underpaying a worker 93 weeks’ wages.
  • A trolley collection company in Victoria was penalised $230,638 after significantly underpaying two workers.
  • 1000 businesses across Australia randomly audited by the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure legal compliance, including the inspecting of time and wage records. The audit specifically focused on the fast food, restaurant and café, retail, security, manufacturing, and labour supply industries.
  • A Perth restaurant owner was penalised more than $200,000 for underpaying a worker, then sacking him by text message.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has shown that it is willing to use every resource at its disposal to ensure businesses are compliant with workplace laws.

Adams and Partners Lawyers is well-versed in Australian workplace laws. We can help your business adopt a preventative approach by safeguarding your business and ensuring it is compliant with Australian workplace laws. By safeguarding your business now, you can avoid expensive penalties or litigation down the track. Whether you want a general compliance ‘health-check’, or something more specific, we can help.

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