The Fair Work Ombudsman is conducting unannounced audits of hospitality outlets in Newtown this week to check businesses are complying with workplace laws.

Fair Work Inspectors will audit at least 60 restaurant, cafe and take away businesses around the King Street dining strip following anonymous reports alleging underpayments.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the activity is part of a compliance and education campaign targeting the hospitality sector, which employs over 500,000 workers in Australia.

“Inspectors are speaking with King Street employers, managers and employees to check that workers are receiving their full wages and entitlements. We are also reviewing records to ensure businesses are complying with important pay slip and record-keeping laws,” says Parker.

“Cheap eateries in busy precincts operate in a particularly competitive environment, with labour representing a significant cost. When low menu prices seem too good to be true, customers should stop and consider – are we paying enough to cover workers’ minimum wages?”

“This week’s audits can also help to improve workplace compliance by eliminating the unfair competitive advantage gained by those employers who underpay staff,” says Parker.

Of all the anonymous reports received by the Fair Work Ombudsman, 40 per cent relate to the hospitality sector, which employs a large proportion of vulnerable workers.

The inner-west Sydney region, which includes Newtown, has the third highest rate of anonymous reports in New South Wales. Many reports are coming from young workers (34 per cent) and visa holders (27 per cent).

“The Fair Work Ombudsman prioritises requests for assistance from vulnerable workers. We have a strong emphasis on ensuring young and migrants workers are aware of their rights and know how to seek help with workplace issues,” says Parker.

A report on the campaign’s findings will be published once the activity is completed.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s Anonymous Report function is available in English and 16 other languages.

Image: Capstone Collective

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