Workplace Ombusdman office targets remote employers

The national pay protector has signalled plans to step up scrutiny of employers in remote areas of the Top End.

The workplace watchdog has put businesses from Darwin to Alice Springs on notice that they will be subject to random audits.  Among those who will be asked to “show their books” to inspectors will be road houses on isolated stretches of the Stuart Highway.

The Workplace Ombudsman’s Northern Territory director Sharon Blandy says it’s time for more face-to-face visits with employers in Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.  She has asked two inspectors to make the road trip in the week beginning Monday October 20. 

“In the first instance, they’ll be simply making contact and explaining to employers their obligations under the Workplace Relations Act,” Ms Blandy said.

Educational packs will be distributed providing information on pay scales, awards, record-keeping requirements and the role of the Workplace Ombudsman.

Ms Blandy said inspectors would return again shortly afterwards to conduct random audits to ensure workers are receiving their proper entitlements. 

Inspectors will visit a selection of employers, including retail, hospitality and the industrial sector and plan to make contact with both employer groups and unions. 

Businesses in Katherine and Tennant Creek can expect a knock on the door on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday October 20, 21 and 22.

Alice Springs employers should expect a visit on Thursday October 23. On Friday, October 24, inspectors will conduct interviews from the Andy McNeill Room at the Alice Springs Town Council building at 93 Todd Street.

Alice Springs workers or employers who want to make appointments to meet inspectors can pre-book a time by contacting the Darwin office on 8943 4500.    Information on pay and conditions can also be obtained by contacting the Workplace Infoline on 1300 363 264.

Recent Workplace Ombudsman activity in the NT includes:

• Audits of 30 restaurants in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek which recovered more than $74,000 in back-pay for 261 workers.

• Audits of 11 Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine cleaning contractors which recouped almost $18,000 for 27 workers.

• Random checks of 83 fast food outlets in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek which resulted in almost $159,000 being back-paid to 386 employees, and

• An audit of a selection of 27 businesses employing under 21-year-olds which returned more than $17,000 to 97 workers who were being underpaid.

Ms Blandy said that in the past two years, her office had finalised 635 claims and recovered more than $658,000 for 261 workers.

Coober Pedy Regional Times