Aussie’s on notice: Do the right thing, or else…
18 months into their agriculture strategy, the Australian Government Fair Work Ombudsman continues to investigate businesses for non-compliance. To date inspectors have issued 64 Infringement Notices for pay slip and record-keeping breaches, with fines totalling over $176,000. 55 of the notices were issued to labour hire companies with the remaining nine to growers. The Government is now considering national labour hire regulation.
It’s positive that compliance is higher where growers employ their staff directly, however where they do engage labour hire companies, they’re not out of the firing line. Growers must protect themselves by ensuring their labour hire companies are also compliant. “It’s a red flag if workers can’t identify their employer and are paid cash-in-hand, without pay slips, by individuals seemingly unrelated to the apparent employing entity. This is prevalent in multi-level supply chains where we consistently find wrongdoing.” says Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker. 110 investigations are ongoing, many of these related to the pieceworkers’ minimum wage guarantee.
Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock voices the concerns in his sector where labour costs are skyrocketing. This is due to the cost of recruiting inexperienced workers, minimum wage top up payments and administration costs. He notes “These rising costs would be bearable if there was a corresponding increase in productivity”. Increases in productivity are possible, but to achieve this growers must consider information automation. With visibility to real-time productivity growers can take action in actively managing their workers. Users of ABCgrower, ABC Software’s labour management software, report significant gains in efficiencies and cost savings.
In fact, the calculations and record-keeping requirements have become such that it’s not viable to manage without purpose-built tools. Horticulture-specific software does minimum wage calculations, provides the tools for competency compliance and allows growers to accurately set piece rates. Uptake of software is on the increase, as Ms Parker notes “During our inspections we’ve had growers show us their sophisticated software that tracks productivity and ensures Horticulture Award compliance.”
Being an ethical and responsible employer is not just the right thing to do, Ms Parker’s message is clear “With unannounced hot spot inspections continuing this year and next, growers and labour hire entities are on notice. They may get a visit from Fair Work Inspectors very soon – and we will take enforcement action where appropriate.” Contact ABC Software to see how labour management software can protect against FWO non-compliance and help increase productivity.