Most Read Contributor in Australia, September 2016
The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is the Commonwealth Regulator that
promotes and enforces minimum wages and conditions for
While it is imperative for employers to ensure they are
compliant with the current minimum wages and entitlements for their
employees, it is also beneficial to keep up to date with the
industries that the FWO is targeting.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the FWO focuses much of its resources on
industries in which many workers are typically paid minimum award
wages. Indeed, the FWO's current national campaigns target the
industries of hospitality, retail, and fruit and vegetable
However, recent announcements by FWO indicate that employers of
professionals such as IT specialists are certainly not immune to
On 16 July 2014, the FWO announced on its website that the FWO
will commence legal action against a string of related companies
and their directors, including IT companies MPowa Pty Ltd and
Worldwide Speciality Services Pty Ltd. The FWO alleges
underpayments totalling more than $1.8 million for 22 employees,
many of whom were IT professionals.
The main director was already facing legal action commenced by
the FWO in relation to other underpayments totalling more than
If the court finds that the workers were underpaid, in addition
to back-payment, the companies face penalties of up to $51,000 per
contravention, and the directors face penalties of up to $10,200
Employers should also be aware that the FWO has recently shown
commitment to ensuring overseas workers are paid correctly. A
recent report by Melbourne University has identified that:
the FWO inspectorate has a specialised Overseas Workers Team
(OWT) dealing exclusively with workplace complaints from overseas
FWO advisers and inspectors typically evaluate overseas workers
as being particularly "vulnerable" and requiring
when a workplace complaint is lodged by an overseas worker, it
is more likely that the FWO will pursue full investigation,
compliance measures, and litigation.
For these reasons, employers of IT professionals, particularly
of those who are overseas workers, should ensure they are compliant
with the minimum wages and conditions in the Fair Work Act
2009 and the relevant award (such as the Professionals Award
This publication does not deal with every important topic or
change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute
for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's
specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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