Posts: Ombudsman

E-updates, blog articles, events, press articles and success stories about


Court orders jail term for owner-operator who failed to comply with orders resulting from Fair Work action

Jailhouse Rock

In June 2015, Judge Jarrett of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia found that a Northern Queensland-based tour company and its owner had underpaid five employees and contravened the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).


Dentist penalised for non-compliance and personally ordered to rectify underpayments

Brace yourself for consequences

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is responsible for ensuring compliance with workplace laws.


How a region banded together to improve employment standards

Group Effort

No employer operates in a silo – all employers operate in complex systems of interrelated stakeholders including employees, customers, other businesses, and regulators who enforce the laws that apply to the employer and their business.


Workplace Relations Review

Cases and Legislation June 2019

Work Health & Safety, Employment Issues, Modern Awards, Discrimination & Harrassment


Workplace Relations Review

Cases and Legislation May 2019

Employment Issues, Adverse Action & Unfair Dismissal, Industrial Issues


Workplace Relations Review

Cases and Legislation March 2019

Modern Awards, employment issues, industrial issues, Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination, Work Health & Safety, Worker's compensation.


Workplace Relations Review - Special E-update February 2019

Casual Employees

What is Casual Employment? Recent developments, possible claims, action plan.


Employer fails to demonstrate that redundancies were due to the ordinary and customary turnover of labour

No ordinary job

The FW Act provides a minimum entitlement to redundancy pay in situations where an employee’s position is genuinely made redundant.


$200,000 penalty imposed for adverse action taken against employees underpaid because of their race

Losing on penalties

Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO’s) successful prosecution of a hotel operator and its owner who took adverse action against two employees because of their Chinese race and Malaysian extraction.


General Manager wilfully blind to contraventions

Was blind but now I see

General Manager of a labour hire business was fined $43,000 for his involvement in contraventions of the Fair Work Act.


The importance of keeping employment records and providing pay slips

Broken record (keeping)

Employers can be penalised for failing to keep proper records and for failing to issue their employees with pay slips in a timely manner.


Understanding the Modern Award system

Short changed?

Since the introduction of the modern award system in 2010 many employers have found it difficult to understand the complex requirements. In fact, the Fair Work Ombudsman reported that for the 2013-2014 financial year it recovered more than $23 million for 15,483 workers.


Service station underpayments signals Court’s approach to accessorial liability of Managers and Directors

It will no longer be accepted that managers or others “involved in” a contravention, such as underpayments, are not liable where they had knowledge or should have had knowledge of the underpayment

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia recently found a director and two managers of a company which operated a Victorian BP Service station personally liable for the underpayment of wages and breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009.


Labour Supply Chain and Underpayments

Chain Reaction

Department store Myer has come under increased pressure from the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) after it declined to enter into a voluntary compliance deed with the regulator.


Former Director still liable to pay penalties with his new wages

FWO First

The Director of Sona Peaks Pty Ltd (in liquidation) which traded as an Indian food restaurant in Victoria was recently ordered by the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to pay a total of $26,715 (plus interest) by way of an Attachment of Earnings Order to his wages with his new employer Metro Trains Melbourne Pty Ltd.


Massage parlour docks workers pay for lacking “passion”

Passion Pop?

In the recent Federal Circuit Court of Australia’s decision in Fair Work Ombudsman v Lu’s Healthcare Pty Ltd & Anor [2016] FCCA 506 (Massage Case) massage parlours were warned that failure to comply with the obligations under modern awards and applicable employment laws will not be tolerated.


Celebrity Fashion and Wedding Dress Designer forced into liquidation due to unpaid employee entitlements

Dressing Down

It has recently been reported that celebrity fashion designer, Johanna Johnson who has designed gowns for Madonna and Christina Hendricks is being pursued in court by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and former employees for more than $1 million. The amount includes at least $300,000 in owed superannuation that had not been paid to employees for many years.


The new FWO anonymous tip-off service

I smell a rat

The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced a new anonymous tip-off service aimed at encouraging the general public to report businesses that they suspect are doing the wrong thing by employees.


Re-offending directors and their cleaning company to pay hefty penalties for breaching FW Act

Time after time

In a recent Federal Circuit Court decision, Fair Work Ombudsman v Commercial and Residential Cleaning Group Pty Ltd & Ors [2017] FCCA 2838, Judge Lucev ordered significant penalties against a Perth cleaning company and two of its directors.


The Fair Work Ombudsman and Enforceable Undertakings

I Promised You a Miracle!

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) continues to successfully prosecute and investigate businesses that exploit workers from overseas. In a recent investigation of a Perth restaurant, the FWO found that two overseas workers had been underpaid by their employer to the tune of $13,822. After admitting to a number of contraventions, the employer agreed to enter into an enforceable undertaking with the FWO to make good.


Human resources manager ordered to pay $21,760 for her participation in underpayments and falsifying records

Look what you made me do

In recent years, the Fair Work Ombudsman has made it clear that it is prepared to prosecute not only employers, but also individuals and third parties ‘involved in’ contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). Most recently, the FWO was successful in its prosecution of a Chinese restaurant as well as its sole director, its human resources manager and its store manager for various breaches of the FW Act, which resulted in 85 employees being underpaid a total of $583,688.68 over a 16 month period.


FWC considers push for paid domestic violence leave

Domestic violence is an issue that employers are now increasingly being forced to manage

As part of the four yearly review of modern awards, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) is considering the proposal made by the union movement to insert a family and domestic violence leave (FDVL) clause into all modern awards.


FWO crackdown on piecework rates

Pick and pay

Last month, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) launched unprecedented legal action in the Federal Court against a large mushroom farm that paid hundreds of its employees based on how much they picked at a rate of 60 to 80 cents per kilogram. It is alleged that the employees had been exploited and underpaid almost $650,000 in eight months.


Woolworths enters compliance deed to eliminate trolley collector exploitation

Top of the food (supply) chain

Earlier this year, we told the tale of the of the trolley collectors in Once upon a trolley – an ongoing saga involving underpayments, vulnerable workers and the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO’s) scrutiny of labour supply chains. In that blog, we focussed on an enforceable undertaking that involved Coles supermarkets and the FWO. Now, Woolworths have come to the trolley collectors’ party, this time in the form of a Proactive Compliance Deed with the FWO.


Labour-hire operator gets referral to public prosecutor for non-payment of wages

New car, zero interest (in employee’s wages)

In most cases, a finding of deliberate non-compliance by a business will result in the imposition of a hefty fine by a court (a pecuniary penalty order). It is also not uncommon to see courts issue other orders such as requiring non-compliant businesses to undergo external audits or requiring managers to undergo specific training. The Federal Circuit Court of Australia has recently utilised the wide scope of this power in Fair Work Ombudsman v Greenan (No. 2) [2017] FCCA 2059.


FWO seeks penalties against a restaurant that deliberately disregarded advice and underpaid employees

“All spaghetti and no meatballs”

It is no secret that the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has been cracking down on employers breaching their employment obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FW Act) and exploiting vulnerable workers in order to gain financial and competitive advantage. Indeed, the Federal Government is very close to passing a Bill through Parliament that will not only impose much harsher penalties on employers but will also increase the FWO’s powers to investigate this type of behaviour.


An induction on deductions from employees’ pay

An induction on deductions

Student accommodation provider UniLodge faced reports this month that it deducted a total amount of $74,336.00 for “rent” over the period October 2011 to April 2016 from the combined salary of two of its onsite caretakers.


Cleaning company engaged in sham contracting ordered to pay over $660,000

It’s a crying sham

Sham contracting and the exploitation of vulnerable workers have been hot topics recently following a series of high profile cases including the likes of 7Eleven, Baiada Poultry and Quest Serviced Apartments. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) continues its crusade, investigating and litigating claims related to worker exploitation in supply chain arrangements.


The cautionary tale of trolley collectors and supermarket supply chains

Once upon a trolley...

The plight of trolley collectors has been a focus of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for many years, and the Australian Industrial Relations Commission before that. In 2011, the FWO shifted its focus to the end users of the trolley collecting supply chain – big supermarkets.


Why businesses should have compliant employment and payroll processes

System Alert

Recenty, MAdE Establishment Group (the Group) and its celebrity chef director and founder went public with a mea culpa that it underpaid the wages of at least 162 employees across its Melbourne restaurants.


Charities under scrutiny in wake of class actions and FWO inquiry

Take it from the top

It is quite common to be walking on a busy street or in a shopping centre and be approached by someone asking for a donation for a specific charity. Have you ever wondered about how much these “fundraisers” are being paid? Well, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has.


FWO sends out warnings about payment and pay methods

Working hard for the money

The FWO has stressed that workers (i.e. labour hire and employees) must be paid the correct wage in accordance with the Horticulture Award. It is likely that the FWO will be closely monitoring the horticulture industry (and other industries where visa holders are predominately employed) given the high incidences of exploitation that have recently been reported in the media.


Employer fined nearly $533,000 in addition to back payment for cash back scheme

Cash me outside

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia’s decision in Fair Work Ombudsman v Rubee Enterprises Pty Ltd & Anor [2016] FCCA 3456 (Rubee’s Case) has penalised a cafe in Albury NSW $532,900 for exploiting five foreign employees. This is the largest fine ever ordered as a result of legal action by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).


FroYo Master Franchisor Penalised for Involvement in Workplace Law Contraventions

Significant Decision Case Study

This is the first decision in which the FWO has secured penalties against a master franchisor for its involvement in contraventions of the FW Act.


Victorian Government Explores Licensing System for Labour Hire Companies

Licence to Labour Hire

Underpayment and sham contracting in the labour supply chain has been the focus of much of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) and the media’s attention this year. The FWO has conducted a number of campaigns and inquiries into industries where the use of labour hire and independent contractors is prevalent. In some circumstances, it has taken legal action where workers have been underpaid minimum wages and conditions.