By James Wells
Bars and venues in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley have been hit with unannounced audits last week by the Fair Work Ombudsman to check compliance with workplace laws.
Fair Work Inspectors visited approximately 80 businesses in Fortitude Valley and its surrounds. Businesses were selected for audit at random or based on intelligence and allegations of non-compliance provided to the Fair Work Ombudsman by members of the public.
The audits involve Fair Work Inspectors assessing time-and-wage records to check pay rates and entitlements and compliance with pay-slip and record-keeping laws.
Inspectors also spoke with various business operators and employees during the visits.
The inner-city suburb of Fortitude Valley lies immediately northeast of the Brisbane CBD and, renowned for its nightclubs, bars and adult entertainment, is popular with city-workers, students and backpackers due to a proliferation of affordable restaurants, bars and cafes.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said inspectors are keen to assess whether the low prices charged in and around Fortitude Valley are due to efficiencies in business practices, as opposed to underpayment of employees’ minimum entitlements.
“With many businesses in the area operating seven days a week, we are focusing on ensuring employees are being paid applicable penalty rates for weekend and night work,” James said.
“We also want to be proactive about checking vulnerable employees – including young, migrant and overseas workers – are receiving their full entitlements because we know they can be reluctant to complain and are sometimes not fully aware of their rights.”
The assessment of time and wage records obtained during site visits is ongoing.
James said Inspectors take a fair and flexible approach to assisting employers to voluntarily rectify non-compliance issues but employers who refuse to co-operate or are found to have serious non-compliance issues may face enforcement action.