The Fair Work Ombudsman seems to be focussing on small business this year, initiating a national audit with beefed up fines, and launching a comprehensive ‘Small Business Showcase’ providing online resources for small business owners seeking information about their workplace obligations.
The auditing campaign will see inspectors audit 1000 businesses across Australia to check compliance. Inspectors are auditing businesses and ‘assisting businesses access and navigate the wide range of free resources available to help them meet their obligations.’ (From head office. Here to help!)
Inspectors will be checking the time and wage records of randomly-selected businesses across a wide range of industries, with a focus given to sectors where large numbers of vulnerable workers, such as casuals, migrants and students, are employed: Fast food, restaurant and café sectors, in addition to other retail segments, security and manufacturing.
‘Australia’s workplace relations system is complex and can be hard to navigate, particularly for time-poor small and family businesses,’ said Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.
‘…Small businesses can be overconfident when it comes to compliance – failing to check the rules to ensure they’ve got things right.’
She said there are lower rates of workplace compliance among small businesses when compared to larger businesses by an average 15 per cent.
She reminded small business that changes made by the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 have doubled the maximum penalty – to $63,000 for a company and $12,600 for an individual – for failing to keep employee records or issue pay slips. These fines apply whether you are Coles or the local kebab shop. The maximum penalty for knowingly making or keeping false or misleading employee records have been tripled to $12,600 for an individual. (Which could be crippling for a small employer, but insignificant to, say, Harvey Norman. KS)
The quite comprehensive and useful showcase covers topics including hiring employees, calculating pay, keeping accurate records and resolving workplace issues. It includes templates for key communications such as First Warning and Dismissal letters, as well as a pay calculator.
It also includes six instructional videos demonstrating how small business owners can use Fair Work Ombudsman resources to meet their obligations as an employer.
The Small Business Showcase consolidates all the information and resources a small business needs in one place at www.fairwork.gov.au/smallbizshowcase.
Employers and employees seeking assistance can visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. Small businesses owners can opt for priority service by following the prompts.