$188,125 wage theft in Glebe

Fair Work Ombudsman recovers $188,125 in wages in Glebe Point Road crackdown. 176 eateries have been found guilty of wage theft in a major blitz by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) audited 67 cafes, restaurants and fast food eateries on Glebe Point Road, in Glebe, and found 70 per cent of businesses were in breach of workplace laws. The compliance blitz was part of an ongoing “intelligence-led” campaign.

$188,125 in underpaid wages for 176 employees were recovered, after 29 businesses were found to be not complying with workplace laws and regulations. Inspectors interviewed staff and scrutinised employment records, before slapping 20 business with on-the-spot fines and issuing 18 formal cautions and two compliance notices, which, if ignored, will lead to legal action.

A report released by the Ombudsman disclosed that the most common violation, paying workers below the minimum hourly rate, occurred in 38 per cent of cases. A failure to provide appropriate payslips to employees was the second most common breach, which occurred in 17 per cent of cases.

The blitz of Glebe businesses was part of a wider unannounced audit, which targeted two other “cheap eats” precincts: Victoria Street in Richmond, Victoria and Fortitude Valley, Queensland. Altogether, the FWO recovered $471, 904 for 616 workers.

The FWO chose to crack down on ‘cheap eats’ areas, as it believes underpayment is rife within the culture of the hospitality and service industries.

“The FWO had concerns about high rates of labour turnover, readily accessible (and often vulnerable) workforces, and menu prices that appeared to be ‘too good to be true’, creating a potential environment of systemic non-compliance,” the report said.
Words: Alison Xiao