04/06/2008 - 22:00

Audits recover wages

04/06/2008 - 22:00

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Dozens of workers in Broome have recovered more than $200,000 in entitlements following an investigation by Australia’s workplace ombudsman.

Audits recover wages

Dozens of workers in Broome have recovered more than $200,000 in entitlements following an investigation by Australia's workplace ombudsman.

The workplace ombudsman's executive director Michael Campbell this week revealed the Broome regional office had finalised 111 investigations and recovered almost $176,000 in workers entitlements across a wide range of industries over the past six months.

"Targeted audit campaigns focusing on the hairdressing and hospitality industries also did very well, with $26,562 recovered for workers out of 71 audits in those sectors in the last six months," Mr Campbell said in a statement.

"We have found workers in hairdressing and hospitality are often young vulnerable workers who may be less able to assert their workplace rights so the importance of these campaigns cannot be understated."

A recent Fair Employment Advocate report on vulnerable workers highlighted employees within the hospitality and hairdressing industries were some of the most susceptible to being exploited by their employers.

The report, 'Vulnerable Workers: Young People', found casual and part-time work is increasingly prevalent among school-aged children and tertiary students.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that 68 per cent of young people aged 15-19 were working part-time in 2003-04, compared to 28 per cent in 1983-84.

In Western Australia, recent figures have shown that 56 per cent of young people aged 15-19 in the workforce were part-time.

A snapshot of the youth labour market in the state confirms that people aged 15-19 are predominantly employed in low skilled, part-time or casual positions in the retail and hospitality sectors.

About 41 per cent of young workers also combine paid employment with education, ABS figures show.

Mr Campbell said workers and employers in regions like Broome faced a number of challenges.

He said generally, regional areas have a large number of vulnerable workers due to the varying availability of employment opportunities and that employers in those regions were not always fully informed about employment legislation.

"Regional Australia can have a transient employee base which is an issue for some employers and recruiting workers in remote regions can also be difficult," Mr Campbell said.

"In some cases workers will accept employment conditions which are below that which they are entitled."

Mr Campbell said the workplace ombudsman was currently undertaking educational audits for employers within the Broome, Derby and Kununurra areas.

"These audits will provide information and advice to employers about their workplace obligations in relation to record keeping, wages and payslips," he said.

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