The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $404,721 in wages for 623 workers in Brisbane after conducting investigations in the city’s food precincts.

Investigators visited 77 businesses across multiple suburbs including the CBD, South Brisbane, Fortitude Valley and Sunnybank, finding 75 per cent of businesses had breached workplace laws.

The inspections were part of a national program targeting food precincts in Brisbane’s West End, Sydney, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart and Launceston, with more than $2 million dollars recovered for workers.

Businesses were selected based on the risk of breaching workplace laws. Those considered at-risk had a history of non-compliance and had been subject to anonymous tip-offs or employed workers considered vulnerable such as visa holders.

53 businesses underpaid workers, while 26 had failed to meet pay slip and record-keeping requirements.

The most common breaches included failing to pay penalty rates or casual loading (40), paying below the minimum hourly rate of pay (37) and breaching pay slip laws (19).

The largest recovery from one business was $80,258 involving 68 full-time and part-time employees.

The Ombudsman has issued 49 compliance notices to 49 businesses and recovered $383,983 for 609 workers thus far.

29 infringement notices were issued for pay slip and record-keeping breaches, resulting in $78,932 paid in fines.

Non-compliant businesses have been warned that future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Image credit: Asian inspirations