Unpaid wages recovered for disability service workers

ATO protecting honest businesses, unfair contract terms

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has recovered $43,204 in unpaid wages for 322 service workers following an investigation into National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) service providers in NSW and Victoria.

The FWO investigated 27 businesses operating in Western Sydney, NSW’s Central Coast, and Mid-North Coast, and Inner-East Melbourne between September 2019 and July 2020. The businesses that were audited offered various forms of assistance to NDIS users, such as accommodation services, household tasks, community participation and personal mobility equipment.

“The FWO was concerned about the potential for non-compliance with workplace laws among NDIS service providers because of the sector’s rapid growth, with increased competition from new, relatively inexperienced employers,” Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said.

Inspectors assessed employment records against the Fair Work Act 2009, Fair Work Regulations 2009, the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Award 2010, Supported Employment Services Award and relevant enterprise agreements.

As a result of the investigations, 13 of the businesses were found to be non-compliant with workplace laws, with 11 of these businesses guilty of underpayments and three of failing to meet payslip and record-keeping obligations.

The most common contraventions related to underpayment of the minimum wage, followed by underpayments of weekend penalty rates and failure to pay travel allowances.

Inspectors issued Compliance Notices to 10 businesses requiring employers to rectify breaches of the law. They also issued one Infringement Notice with penalties totalling $1200. These businesses were put on notice that any future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement action.

As a result, the FWO recovered wages from individual businesses that ranged from $23 for one worker at a Western Sydney business to $21,549 for 222 workers at a separate Western Sydney business.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation should serve as a reminder to new employers and those in expanding industries about the importance of prioritising compliance with workplace laws,” Parker said.