Australia’s cleaners underpaid $763,000

A crackdown on cleaning contractors has revealed 1,212 of Australia’s cleaners have been underpaid almost $763,000.

578 contractors were scrutinised by the Fair Work Ombudsman, highlighting widespread underpayments in the industry. Victoria saw the poorest results, with 268 employees underpaid a total of $246,206 by 36 employers. NSW came close behind, with 40 employers having to back-pay 294 employees $215,278.

FWO Natalie James said, while it was disappointing the cleaning industry was continuing to see underpayments, the new results show an overall rise in compliance.

The FWO’s 2010 campaign, which recouped almost $500,000 for 900 cleaners, saw a compliance rate of 54 per cent. Compliance has now risen to 63 per cent, with 356 of the 578 cleaning business scrutinised found to be fully compliant.

The latest data released by the FWO indicates Australia currently has over 25,000 businesses operating in the cleaning services industry, employing almost 100,000 workers. 64 per cent of the country’s cleaners are over 40 years of age, 55 per cent are female, 47 per cent were born overseas, and 10 per cent are students.

The recent campaign resulted in 141 businesses having to back pay staff payments, ranging from $30 to $50,000. Most contravening businesses were found to have underpaid minimum hourly rates.

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