Wake up call for labour hire employers on wages

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An Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) audit of 63 labour hire employers revealed a disappointing 79 per cent didn’t meet all their obligations under Australia’s workplace laws. This included not paying their workers correctly, not keeping proper records and not giving their workers pay slips.

ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the agency’s Wages Group recovered $563,860 for 1337 employees during the audit which was finalised in the 2019/20 financial year.

“The ABCC has recovered more than $2.1 million in wages and entitlements for 3174 construction workers since it assumed this function on 2 December 2016,” Mr McBurney said.

“Our proactive audits have accounted for 80 per cent of the wages and entitlements we have recovered for employees in the Australian construction industry.

“We also encourage employers, employees and their representatives to make complaints and provide information directly to us. This will allow us to better target our proactive compliance activities to address unlawful behaviour.

“Where employees complain directly to us about their employer, we will investigate their complaint.

They can also make complaints anonymously through our website at abcc.gov.au/contact/anonymous-reporting-form.”

The report noted labour hire arrangements involve a triangular relationship in which a labour hire business supplies a worker to a host employer for an agreed fee.

“The precarious nature of labour hire employment means workers are less likely to speak up about their working conditions,” Mr McBurney said.

“The employers that we audited participated willingly and agreed to rectify any anomalies the ABCC discovered and changed their systems to ensure they comply with Australia’s workplace laws.

“The ABCC’s role is to bring about behavioural change in the construction industry to ensure work is carried our fairly, efficiently and productively. Proactive audits are just one of the many compliance activities we have available to achieve this outcome.”

What the ABCC did
ABCC inspectors assessed time and wage records for compliance against the Fair Work Act 2009, the Fair Work Regulations 2009 and the relevant modern award or enterprise agreement.

A modern award covered 59 per cent of employees; the most common being the Building and Construction General On-Site Award 2010. An enterprise agreement covered the remaining 41 per cent.

Read the full report here.

 
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