The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recovered $139,703 for 191 employees after random audits were conducted as part of the Queensland Retail Hardware Audit Program.

As a way to assess and promote industrial compliance, the Fair Work Inspectors audited 368 368 Queensland hardware retail stores. It found 62 per cent were meeting their obligations under workplace laws, while 38 per cents were not. A further three audits remain ongoing.

Of the businesses audited, 76 were found to have underpaid 191 employees, while 63 businesses had only record-keeping and pay slip contraventions.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman, Michael Campbell, said in cases of contraventions, Fair Work Inspectors worked with employers to rectify issues and put processes in place to ensure they get it right in the future.

“While the contravention rate was concerning, it is pleasing that all employers voluntarily back-paid employees all money owed without the need for further action,” he said.

Businesses that had underpaid staff were at locations including Brisbane, Beaudesert, Bundaberg, Cairns, Childers, Gatton, Gold Coast, Mackay, Nambour, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville.

Hardware stores in the Rockhampton and Mackay regions were the worst performers, with more than half of the outlets having to back-pay staff.

According to the FWO audit report it received a “high number” of complaints from Queensland hardware retail industry employees. An analysis of complaints received in 2010/11 showed it received 50 complaints from the Queensland hardware retailing sector – 62 per cent of which resulted in recovery of money from the complainants.

Campbell said the campaign focussed mainly on smaller and independent hardware retailers

“The campaign aimed to ensure workers were receiving their full entitlements and to ensure employers in the industry were aware of their obligations under workplace laws,” he said.
“The campaign provided an opportunity for employers to ensure they were aware of the free resources available to help them comply with their obligations.”