THE Fair Work Ombudsman has helped more than 80 underpaid clothing workers across Queensland receive more than $50,000 in back-pay.
An audit of 171 clothing manufacturers found 50 businesses where there had breaches of record-keeping, pay slip or payment level requirements.
The audit followed complaints from within the industry that workers were not receiving their entitlements.
Businesses where workers received back-pay included some in
- North Rockhampton,
- Burleigh BC,
- Currumbin Waters,
- Ellen Grove,
- Hervey Bay,
- Redbank Plains,
- Shailer Park and
- South Mackay.
Acting Fair Work ombudsman Michael Campbell said clothing outworkers who made garments from their homes or another location instead of working from business premises were a particular focus of the campaign.
"Complex supply chain structures can mean outworkers don't know who their actual employer is, or they may be reluctant to complain for fear of losing orders, and so these workers can be more vulnerable to exploitation," Mr Campbell said.
Surprisingly, only 11 of the businesses audited (six per cent) employed outworkers.
Seven of those (64%) had been found to have contravened record-keeping obligations and the conditions specific to outworkers in the relevant award.
Mr Campbell said while the compliance rate for businesses engaging outworkers was disappointing, a common cause of the errors was employers being unaware of their obligations.
He said Fair Work inspectors educated employers on their obligations and the businesses had since put processes in place to ensure they complied in the future.
Employers and employees seeking information and advice should consult the free tools and resources available at fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.
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