FWO issues major company with Proactive Compliance Deed

by Nicola Middlemiss28 Oct 2015
Last week, it emerged that some of Baiada’s contractors were continuing to underpay workers at the company’s processing plants – despite the publication of a report three months ago confirming the mass underpayments.

On Monday, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) released a statement in which it said Baiada had agreed to a compliance partnership to make up for past underpayments by contractors, and ensure that workplace legislation is complied with in future.

Proactive Compliance Deeds are used to formalise a compliance partnership, and are tailored to individual companies.

They are signed by both the FWO and the business, and outline the steps that the FWO and the company will take to ensure they are compliant with workplace laws.

Ordinarily, they continue for a two to three year period after being signed.

The partnerships allow businesses to publicly demonstrate their commitment to being compliant employers.

Earlier this year, the FWO released findings from an inquiry into the exploitation of overseas workers at the company’s plants.

It was found that a number of workers from China and Taiwan, who were on 417 working holiday visas, had been recruited by labour hire contractors through Chinese newspapers, Facebook and Taiwanese backpacker websites.

Workers were paid as little as $11.50 an hour – far less than the national minimum wage.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said the company has now agreed to enter a three-year Proactive Compliance Deed.

“Over the life of the Deed, Baiada has agreed to assume responsibility for the underpayment of workers engaged in its supply chain through contract labour arrangements, even though it is not their direct employer,” she said.

Baiada has also agreed to establish a hotline as a contact point for employees who believe they have been underpaid.

In addition, workers will carry photo ID cards, which record the name of their direct manager as well as an electronic system that will record all hours worked.

The agreement also states that contractors must be independently audited to ensure that they are complying with workplace laws – and the audit results must be provided to the FWO and published.

In a statement on its website, Baiada said that it expects its contractors to “conduct their activities in accordance with the relevant legal and ethical standards, and in particular workplace laws or requirements”.

“We were deeply concerned by the reports that came to light detailing workers poor treatment at the hands of some contractors,” the company said.

“Following a recent internal review, most of the measures that the FWO recommends in its Report are already in place, or are being initiated, across our business.

“We have already responded to the Report’s authors in detail and look forward to meeting them to provide an accurate account of our company’s operations.

“We agree that it is very important to establish an on-going collaboration on this very important matter and we look forward to engaging with the FWO in the future.”

HC contacted Baiada for comment but received no response prior to publication.


  • by Graeme 29/10/2015 4:35:41 PM

    They must be getting awfully close to crossing that blurred line between contractor and employee.

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