The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered $121,574 in wages for 144 hospitality workers in Launceston, Tasmania.

Inspectors looked into 31 businesses across nine suburbs and food precincts in nearby towns in and around the city. It was found that 77 per cent of businesses had breached workplace laws.

The inspections were part of a nation-wide program which has targeted food precincts in Hobart, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, The Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin with more than $2 million recovered for workers.

Businesses were selected for surprise inspections based on their risk of breaching workplace laws.

Those considered at risk had a history of non-compliance with the FWO, had been subject to anonymous tip-offs or employed vulnerable visa holders.

Out of the 24 businesses found to be in breach, 23 had underpaid their workers and seven failed to meet play slip and record-keeping requirements.

The most common breaches found were the failure to pay penalty rates (19 businesses), underpayment of minimum hourly rate (18 businesses) and the failure to pay correct leave allowances (seven businesses).

The largest recovery from one business was $39,432 for 26 casual and full-time employees who had been underpaid minimum wages, overtime, late night, weekend and public holiday penalties.

In response to the breaches, Fair Work has issued a Compliance Notice each to 22 businesses, recovering $117,199 for 142 workers.

Seven infringement notices were issued for payslip and record-keeping breaches, resulting in $9,988 paid in fines. Matters are ongoing in relation to two businesses.

Non-compliant businesses were warned that any future breaches may lead to higher-level enforcement action by Fair Work.

Younger workers and visa holders were found among both non-compliant and compliant businesses.

Image credit: Centennial Inn