More than 700 food services workers throughout Australia will be back-paid $470,000 following a six-month campaign that targeted take-away food outlets, supermarkets, grocery stores, bread and cake shops, meat, fish and poultry distributors and dairy manufacturers.
Of 481 employers randomly audited by inspectors, 29 per cent were found to be underpaying 714 staff a total of $469,502. Every employee will be back-paid an average of $671.
The largest recoveries are in NSW ($203,919) and Victoria ($140,975) followed by Queensland ($42,781), Northern Territory ($38,664), Western Australia ($28,760), South Australia ($9188) and Tasmania ($5215).
Fair Work Ombudsman executive director Michael Campbell said he is encouraged that 278 – or 58 per cent – of food service businesses scrutinised so far are compliant with national workplace law.
He said it is also pleasing that all employers found to be in breach have resolved their issues voluntarily after discussions with Fair Work inspectors.
The targeted campaign was conducted between December 2008 and May 2009, following a mailout to 18,000 food service businesses nationwide.
The biggest underpayments were in the take-away food sector, where $227,946 is to be reimbursed to 221 workers.
A total of $71,126 is being recouped for 88 bread and cake shop employees. Other recoveries include $47,548 for 12 workers at the Sydney markets; $47,278 for 107 workers in the meat, fish and poultry sector; $38,664 for 195 grocery and supermarket staff; $26,448 for 57 employees in the specialised food sector, and $10,492 for 34 workers in dairy manufacturing.
The campaign is yet to be closed, with a further 136 investigations still underway.