On Monday 3 June, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker set the scene for the year ahead when she announced that franchisors and businesses operating in the fast food, Restaurant and Café industries will be targeted as part of a new focus on enforcement– a clearly articulated strategy that will see the FWO use their increased powers and resources to send a “clear message of deterrence to would-be lawbreakers”.

Stamping out underpayment, and the exploitation of vulnerable workers, remain key priorities and franchisors scrutinised and found to be non-compliant in paying employees will be publicly named (and shamed) to send a clear message that these practices are wholly unacceptable. In addition to the maximum penalties of $630,000 for companies and $126,000 for an individual per serious contravention, the potential for irrevocable damage to a franchisor’s brand cannot be overstated.

As part of its new Compliance and Enforcement Policy, the FWO clearly stated that it intends to enforce industrial laws by issuing compliance notices, and also made it clear that if businesses fail to comply with these notices, the FWO won’t be shy in seeking monetary penalties through the Court system. Big businesses will also be forced to make a “contribution payment” to offset any cost to the taxpayer incurred when getting their underpayments verified by experts contracted to the FWO.

Ms Parker noted:

For anyone that considers our approach in these circumstances to be too tough, I can assure you that the consequences for those businesses that see a problem but don’t come forward will be far more significant.

At HR Assured, we work with some of Australia’s leading franchise networks to ensure compliant and efficient business practices when it comes to workforce management. You can contact us if you’d like to talk to us about how our award-winning services and HR technology could provide your business with all the tools you need to keep your house in order.