More than one in five businesses audited by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) across three states have been found to have underpaid workers, with employers forced to backpay over $580,000 to nearly 1000 employees. From The Australian:
Fair Work inspectors found widespread noncompliance with workplace laws after auditing 1385 businesses in regional Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors were a focus of the investigation.
Inspectors found 22 per cent of audited business failed to pay their employees correctly, 15 per cent were in breach of non-monetary obligations by not providing proper pay slips or keeping proper employment records, and six per cent failed to pay their employees correctly and meet their non-monetary obligations.
The most common breach of workplace laws was the underpayment of the minimum hourly rate, with inspectors also uncovering underpayment of overtime and penalty rates. The ombudsman recovered an average of about $600 per underpaid employee…
In 2017, the FWO revealed that migrant workers were involved in more than three-quarters of legal cases initiated by the FWO against unscrupulous employers. Whereas last year it was revealed that nearly three-quarters of businesses in the hospitality industry audited by the FWO across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane had breached workplace laws.
Thus, the wage theft issue is embedded most deeply in the migrant community. This is part cultural but also structural. Given many migrant workers are vulnerable while they are looking to rack up their years to apply for permanent residency, they are not going to report being underpaid. This is most poignant in those business models in which labour has become a profit centre because workers are effectively paying bosses to sponsor their visas.
Policy makers know the problems, but refuse to take concrete action. Wage theft and low wages growth are a feature not bug of the immigration-led economy.