May 31, 2017

Bosses rip off workers because they can — it’s not like the FWO will stop them

A recidivist business can rip off workers for years without fear of ever being brought up on criminal charges, writes former CDPP prosecutor Robert Corr.

Fair Work Ombudsman workers ripped off

Last week, the Fair Work Ombudsman issued a media release about taking civil action against a dodgy boss who owed one staff member over $60,000 in unpaid wages. But it was a strange case to crow about, as the same employer had previously been caught by the FWO for an earlier rip-off. Over four years, it had underpaid an employee by almost $30,000. The only consequence for that first infraction was to pay the employee what they were owed -- and promise not to do it again. 

These promises, known as enforceable undertakings (EUs), are the preferred enforcement strategy of a regulator that emphasises co-operation with business ahead of prosecuting exploitation.

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8 thoughts on “Bosses rip off workers because they can — it’s not like the FWO will stop them

  1. The Curmudgeon

    As the writer points out, current “penalty” regime is just seen as the cost of doing business. Until there’s serious gaol time (and the “perp walk”), hard to see how anything will change.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      Good to see someone else still spelling it as gaol, old-timer! 🙂

  2. AR

    And people who should, and probably do, know better still talk of dominant union power and the need for less regulation in industrial relations.
    The price of equity is eternal vigilance at the grave of SerfChoices because, given a hint of a chance, it will be baaack!

  3. Sue Law

    There’s a term for it: regulatory capture.

  4. ajf

    In its current form, the Fair Work Ombudsman could be replaced with a “please take one” sign atop a stack of business cards with “Comply with the law. Please?” printed on them.

  5. Dog's Breakfast

    Couldn’t agree more Robert. This should be a caution and fine for first offence, and criminal charges for ongoing offences. Administrative error is real, and explains quite a few underpayments, but serial offenders need to be going to gaol/jail as well as fines.

  6. Charlie Chaplin

    ‘ Tellingly, “employers with a history of non-compliance” are referred to by the FWO as “Customers”. ‘ Says it all, really, doesn’t it? The joys of small government/ free market capitalism. Appalling.

  7. Katie Watson

    FWO is just as deliberately toothless when it comes to work, health and safety requirements … even where injuries are serious and omissions are deliberate.

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