Fair Work Ombudsman recovers record $532m in unpaid wages and entitlements
The Sector > Quality > Compliance > Fair Work Ombudsman recovers record $532m in unpaid wages and entitlements

Fair Work Ombudsman recovers record $532m in unpaid wages and entitlements

by Freya Lucas

August 15, 2022

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) recovered half a billion dollars in unpaid wages and entitlements in 2021/22, representing the needs of more than 384,000 workers.


The amount recovered was more than three times that of last year’s record and benefitted five times the number of workers across the nation, including those employed in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. 


In 2020 and 2021 a number of high profile ECEC providers, including G8 Education, Only About Children and Camp Australia were required to address  irregularities in the payment of overtime, minimum engagement periods and agreed hours of work and allowances for educators.


Kristen Hannah, Deputy FWO – Policy and Communication, announced the figures in a speech to the Policy-Influence-Reform (PIR) conference in Canberra last week, saying they were ‘good news’ for workers and compliant businesses.


“The Fair Work Ombudsman’s strengthened compliance and enforcement approach has seen another record amount of back paid wages for Australian workers in the last financial year,” Ms Hannah said.


“This is a great result for the workers who have been reunited with their withheld wages, and also for the businesses that pay correctly and are no longer at a disadvantage as a result.”


More than half of the recoveries – almost $279 million – came from large corporate employers. Ms Hannah said this is the result of “the sustained hard work that our agency has done to create an environment that encourages large corporates to prioritise compliance”. 


Approximately 50 investigations are currently underway by the FWO into large corporates that have self-reported underpayments, including some of Australia’s largest companies.


In 2021-22, the federal workplace regulator filed a record 137 litigations, part of efforts to hold to account employers who had allegedly breached workplace laws. This was an almost doubling of the number of new matters put into court the year before.


The FWO also continued its work to assist small business, including by providing more than 1200 written pieces of tailored technical advice to small business employers through its Employer Advisory Service.


Information on the FWO’s 2022-23 compliance and enforcement priorities can be found here.  Ms Hannah’s speech to Australian Industry Group PIR Conference may be accessed using the link provided. 

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