Fair Work Ombudsman recovered over $500 million dollars on workers’ behalf

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman has reported that it has recovered $509 million in unpaid wages and entitlements for more than a quarter of a million workers in 2022-23, the second-largest annual figure in its history.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah stated that this was an important achievement for her office.

“The recovery of $509 million in the last financial year is a great result for the workers who have been backpaid their withheld wages, and also for the businesses that pay correctly and are no longer at a disadvantage as a result,” Hannah said. “The latest recoveries mean the Fair Work Ombudsman has seen more than $1 billion recovered for workers across Australia in the last two years alone.”

More than half of the 2022-23 recoveries – $317 million – came from large corporate and university employers.

“These results occur after the consistent work that our agency has done to create an environment that expects large corporates to prioritise compliance and to report to us when they have got it wrong,” Hannah said. “The Fair Work Ombudsman is continuing to use all the powers available to us to enforce compliance, especially where breaches impact vulnerable workers.”

In the last year, the Fair Work Ombudsman has accepted Enforceable Undertakings related to backpayments of millions of dollars each from companies that included David Jones, Politix, Crown Melbourne and Perth, and Suncorp, as well as three separate universities.

The FWO also commenced major litigations against the likes of Super Retail Group and four of its subsidiaries, and two franchisors, 85 Degrees Coffee and Bakers Delight Holdings, for having breached workplace laws

Hannah added that the regulator had also delivered on its important role to educate on workplace laws, including regular changes.

“As a regulator we recognise that prevention is better than cure, so we put a huge amount of effort into our education and advice function to help ensure employers and workers have the latest accurate information they need to be compliant,” she said.