The Senate last night passed tough new laws that will see penalties of up to $630,000 for employers who knowingly underpay their employees. The laws will also see franchisors and holding companies held accountable for any breaches of employment laws by their franchisees and subsidiaries. The new laws give the Fair Work Ombudsman new investigative powers.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Director of Workplace Relations Scott Barklamb said:
“Any employer who knowingly underpays not only harms their employees, they gain an unfair advantage over their competitors and harm the vast majority of business owners who do the right thing.
“Most employers put in a lot of time and effort to understand and comply with their complex obligations under Australian employment law.
“It is important these new investigation powers and penalty provisions are used in a targeted way and only in the most serious and repeated cases of non-compliance.
“The Australia Chamber will work with the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure these new laws are approached in a practical way.
“Australia has one of the most complex systems of workplace relations in the world. Lengthy and prescriptive industrial awards and overlapping legislated standards mean there is a high risk of inadvertent error.
“We encourage all employers to familiarise themselves with their obligations and to seek advice and assistance from their State or Territory Chamber or industry association. “