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Australia's Fair Work Ombud fines farm employers more than $78,000

The Fair Work Ombudsman has fined growers and labour hire providers in North West Victoria’s Sunraysia region, South Australia’s Riverland, and NSW’s Coffs Harbour and Grafton a combined $78,362 for breaching pay slips and record-keeping laws in the last year.

In contrast, there has been high levels of compliance found in the Queensland growing regions of Wide Bay and Moreton Bay.

Since the regulator began its agriculture strategy in December 2021, it has investigated 237 businesses in hot spots across Australia where intelligence suggests non-compliance may be present.

Fair Work Inspectors have issued a combined 31 Infringement Notices (fines) totalling $35,964 in Sunraysia, $22,644 in the Riverland and $19,754 in Coffs Harbour and Grafton.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said employers were expected to apply the rules correctly.

“Record-keeping is the bedrock of compliance. Employers who fail to meet these obligations are more likely to be underpaying, whether intentionally or not. It is concerning that Inspectors have needed to issue close to $80,000 in fines to employers who breached payslip and records laws,” Ms Parker said.

Fair Work Inspectors also issued six Compliance Notices to employers who the Inspectors believed had underpaid workers under an award or had contravened the National Employment Standards. Of these, four were to employers in the Riverland, and one was to an employer in each of Moreton Bay and the Sunraysia region.

All but one of the Compliance Notices related to underpayment of hourly rates. The other, in Mildura, was issued for failure to provide the Fair Work Information Statement to workers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has investigations into more than 80 agriculture employers ongoing nationally.

Viticulture investigations
The regulator’s proactive viticulture investigations, which are separate from the hot spot inspections, assessed 35 businesses following site inspections in March and April this year in WA’s Margaret River, Victoria’s Yarra Valley, and SA’s Coonawarra. The FWO issued 12 Infringement Notices totalling $53,260 for record-keeping and pay slip contraventions, plus five Compliance Notices requiring that underpayments believed to have occurred under the Wine Industry Award be rectified.

The FWO’s Horticulture Showcase has self-audit tools, templates for employers hiring pieceworkers and a range of resources for migrant workers. Employers and employees can visit or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance about their rights and obligations in the workplace. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

For more information:
Claire Low
Fair Work
Tel: +61 0418 825 074

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