Hospitality under the fair work spotlight

hospitality industry

Senior workplace adviser, Josh Vikis

Despite the hospitality industry employing only seven per cent of Australia’s workforce, it accounted for the highest number of disputes according to Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) 2016-17 data.

The industry also had the highest number of anonymous reports received, the highest number of infringement notices issued, and the highest number of court actions commenced last year.

Senior workplace adviser at Employsure, Josh Vikis said: “Hospitality employers are under a lot of pressure. They’re always on demand and trying to keep their head above water running their business. So, it’s hard to keep across the employment guidelines, legislation, and requirements that they need to be across.”

In 2016–17, the FWO ordered over $4.8 million in financial penalties against non-compliant businesses—up 66 per cent from last year. In addition, the FWO received 10,535 anonymous reports—half of those reports alleged issues of non-compliance in the hospitality and retail industries.

“Almost half of Australia’s hospitality workers are aged between 15 and 24 years—a demographic that the FWO considers vulnerable,” Vikis said.

Record keeping and pay entitlements are common issues particularly for hospitality and retail where shifts and rosters can be irregular and Awards can vary.

“On average, we receive 1000 calls a month from our hospitality clients on wages and entitlements alone; this shows that there is a desire from business owners to understand their obligations—particularly now because of recent penalty rate changes,” Vikis continued.

With an overall FWO compliance rate for the industry of just 48 per cent, “it’s clear there’s a lack of understanding of and compliance with workplace laws throughout hospitality.

“Most employers want to do the right thing. Most problems arise because of misunderstandings about the application of the law, rather than a blatant disregard for it.”

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