Fair Work Ombudsman finds Australian workers were underpaid over half a billion in 2023

More than half a billion dollars in underpayments have been recovered and back-paid to Australian workers this year, the Fair Work Ombudsman has revealed.

An incredible $509 million for 251,475 underpaid workers was recovered in 2022-23, the workplace regulator said.

More than half ($317 million) of the recoveries came from large corporate and university employers who paid back more than 160,000 underpaid employees.

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“The Fair Work Ombudsman has created a firmer culture of accountability and an environment that expects Australia’s largest employers to prioritise compliance,” Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said.

Booth added that the combined $1 billion in back payments across the last two years alone is “an important result making a real difference to workers’ lives”.

“Our investigations and enforcement actions send a clear message — all employers must place a higher priority on ensuring they are meeting all their workers’ lawful entitlements, including by improving their payroll and governance and investing in advice,” she said.

The regulator filed 81 litigations in 2022-23 and 2424 Compliance Notices.

Fair Work Inspectors also issued 626 Infringement notices for record-keeping or payslips breaches.

They also filed major litigations, which are continuing before the federal court, against the University of Melbourne, separate cases against franchisors 85 Degrees Coffee and Bakers Delight Holdings, and proceedings against holding company Super Retail Group and four of its subsidiaries.

“Through the agency’s sustained hard work, we have ensured that employees and employers across Australian workplaces have the help and latest accurate information they need. Of course, prevention is better for employer and worker alike,” Booth said.

“Anyone with concerns about their workplace rights or obligations should contact us for free advice and assistance.”

Employers and employees can visit the Fair Work website for assistance.

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