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Record number of backpayments recovered by Fair Work Ombudsman in 2021-22

More than $532 million in back-paid wages and entitlements has been recovered by Australia’s workplace tribunal in the last financial year, three times higher than 2020-21 and more than quadruple that achieved in 2019-2020.

More than half of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s recoveries came from large corporate employers. 

“The Fair Work Ombudsman has created an environment that expects large corporates to prioritise compliance,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker. “Combined with stronger, targeted compliance and enforcement action across all our work, the result has been another record amount of wages back in workers’ pockets.”

She added, “All employers must prioritise putting in place systems and getting the advice they need to ensure they are paying workers their lawful entitlements. Those who are doing the wrong thing, including large corporates, are being found out – and we don’t hesitate to take enforcement action where appropriate.”

Outlined in the FWO’s Annual Report, large corporate employers back-paid nearly $279 million to more than 267,000 employees, six times the amount returned in the previous financial year. 

Notably, almost $2 million was secured in concluded cases that involved exploited migrant workers. Often, they are “unaware of their workplace rights or can be reluctant to speak up,” the FWO noted.

The financial year 2021-22 also marked a record number of litigations for the FWO (137 new litigations) and the first time it has filed 100 litigations in a year. Employment matters involving two of Australia’s largest employers, Coles Supermarkets and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), are currently before the Federal Court.

Ms Parker went on to outline the FWO’s plan for the next financial year.

“Our priorities for 2022-23, in addition to ongoing pandemic recovery support, are fast food, restaurants and cafés, large corporates, the university sector, agriculture, sham contracting and contract cleaning,” she elaborated.

For free advice and assistance on workplace rights and obligations, you can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website here or call the infoline on 13 13 94.

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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