The Fair Work Ombudsman’s latest annual report shows a “significant increase” in wage theft, especially among migrant workers:
In 2018–19, we conducted 1256 investigations into more complex or significant matters (involving vulnerable workers, serious non-compliance and/or uncooperative employers)…
The overall compliance rate for our audits for the year was 45%, with the most common contraventions relating to:
- hourly rate underpayments (33%)
- failure to provide pay slips in their prescribed form (23%)
- penalty rates for weekend work (10%)…
Fast food, restaurants and cafes
The fast food, restaurants and cafes sector continues to be a key priority. While only accounting for 7% of the labour force, the hospitality industry has consistently had the highest number of disputes we’ve assisted with for the last five financial years.
The hospitality industry accounts for 36% of all anonymous reports we received in the last financial year (more than three times higher than the second highest ranked industry) and accounted for one-quarter of all our litigations. Within this industry, the highest rates of non-compliance are found in the fast food, restaurants and cafes sector…
Our report into the Harvest Trail detailed widespread non-compliance among employers in the horticulture and viticulture sectors, a significant reliance on migrant workers and a negative impact where illegal labour-hire arrangements were used…
Vulnerable and migrant workers
Intelligence continues to tell us that migrant workers are one of the most vulnerable cohorts. They’re over-represented in our disputes and compliance and enforcement outcomes. While migrant workers make up only 6% of the Australian workforce1, they account for:
- 22% of all formal disputes completed
- 24% of anonymous reports received
- 83% of the litigations we commenced in 2018–19.
Our research indicates that migrant workers are often vulnerable to exploitation because they:
- are new to the Australian labour market
- have limited knowledge about their workplace rights and entitlements
- may be experiencing language and cultural barriers.
Basically, it’s Groundhog Day in Australia’s modern slave economy.