National Audit Targeting Restaurants, Cafés and Catering

The Fair Work Ombudsmen (FWO) recently began its national audit of cafes, restaurants and catering businesses to ensure they are complying with Australian minimum wage and record keeping requirements. Up to 1,500 businesses will be targeted – many of these will be given notice, but FWO has warned they will also conduct on-the-spot visits and inspections. FWO announced earlier this month that hospitality businesses in Melbourne’s CBD and inner suburbs have already been ordered to back pay staff nearly $40,000. In all cases, the issue was underpaying foreign staff. In one case, a business was also fined $550.

In Queensland, regions to be targeted by FWO include: Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Ayr, Bowen, Bundaberg, CabooltureGold Coast, Emerald, Gympie, Hamilton Island, Hervey Bay, Ipswich, Mackay, Port Douglas, Stanthorpe, Sunshine Coast and Townsville. Many employers simply aren’t aware of their legal requirements, or even that the national minimum wages changed earlier this year. To ensure you are complying with your legal obligations as an employer, view these resources:

The FWO’s National Hospitality Campaign began in 2012 and will run until 2015. The campaign involves three stages – the first focused on accommodation, pubs, taverns and bars. We are now in the second stage, targeting cafes, restaurants and catering businesses. The third stage will be announced ‘at a later stage’.

The ‘education and compliance’ campaign came about after the FWO received 4,561 complaints from employees working in the hospitality industry. Following investigations, about half of these complaints resulted in FWO recovering money on behalf of employees. FWO realised young or vulnerable workers were being underpaid, but often the employer was unaware of their obligations.

To stay up-to-date with the latest news regarding the campaign, please see FWO’s Media Releases website