Increased penalties and greater powers for the Fair Work Ombudsman

Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017

As if you need any more reasons to get your business in order, the commencement of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017 on 15 September sees major increases to penalties in relation to breaches of employment law.

Changes include:

  • New financial penalties for “serious contraventions‟ which are 10 times the current maximum penalty, where an employer knew they were breaching their obligations and this conduct is part of a systematic pattern of behavior (maximum penalties of $630,000 and $126,000 per contravention for corporations and individuals respectively); 
  • Doubling maximum penalties for record-keeping and pay slip breaches(to $12,600 per contravention for individuals and $63,000 for companies), and tripling existing penalties in cases where employers give false or misleading pay slips to workers, or provide the Fair Work Ombudsman with false information or documents; 
  • Where an employer has not met their record-keeping or pay slip obligations, the employer will have to disprove a wage claim put before a Court; 
  • Prohibiting employers from unreasonably requiring employees to make payments such as "cashback" arrangements; and
  • Requiring a person to attend an interview with the Fair Work Ombudsman and removing their protection against self-incrimination.