The Fair Work Ombudsman is tackling poor working conditions found in the retail sector by writing to almost 50,000 retailers to encourage greater compliance with workplace laws.
The sector generates more complaints than any other industry – 4200 last year, or almost 20 per cent – and the Fair Work Agency has prosecuted 39 retail employers in four years.
Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says the focus of the retail campaign will be to check that employers are paying workers correct minimum rates of pay, penalty rates, loadings and allowances.
“Some businesses think it is okay to require staff to arrive early to prepare a store for opening and stay late to clean up afterwards without paying them for that time – but it’s not, it’s unlawful,” he said.
“We are mindful that this is an industry which employs large numbers of young people and low-paid workers who may be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their workplace rights.”
In response to the campaign Margy Osmond, chief executive of the Australian National Retailers Association said:
“This decision places another compliance impost on retailers at a time when they are already facing a raft of changes to pay scales and an increase in their administrative burden under the modern award system to be introduced on 1 July 2010.
“In light of these changes I would urge Fair Work Australia to reconsider this initiative for implementation at a later date.”