More than 20 per cent of businesses randomly audited at three major Melbourne shopping centres have been found to be breaching workplace laws.

Federal Workplace Ombudsman inspectors checked the books of 386 businesses at Southland Shopping Centre, Dandenong Plaza and nearby industrial areas and Chadstone Shopping Centre.

The audits, conducted between September and November last year, revealed that 82 employers – 21 per cent – were failing to comply with their legal obligations under workplace legislation.

Workplace Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell says most breaches related to non-compliance with record keeping and pay-slip requirements, but inspectors also found that seven businesses were underpaying staff.

Inspectors recovered $17,741 for 18 workers, including:

• $9563 for three female workers at a Southland health-and-beauty premises,
• $5880 for three female sales staff at a Chadstone fashion retailer, and
• $2143 for three female sales staff from different fashion retail outlets at Dandenong Plaza.

Campbell said all underpayments were the result of the workers being underpaid the hourly rate, overtime rates and penalty rates.

“In total, 31 of 119 businesses audited at Dandenong, 30 of 149 businesses audited at Southland, and 21 of 118 businesses at Chadstone were breaching workplace laws,” he said.

Campbell says because most of the breaches were deemed by inspectors to be inadvertent and employers had been quick to voluntarily rectify all issues identified, there would be no prosecutions.