Fair Work Ombudsman announces a record $532 million in unpaid wages were recovered in 2021-22 – Michmutters

Fair Work Ombudsman announces a record $532 million in unpaid wages were recovered in 2021-22

The Fair Work Ombudsman has announced that a record $532 million in unpaid wages and entitlements was recovered for more than 384,000 workers in 2021-22.

The amount is more than three times that of last year’s figure.

“It’s clearly a problem,” AMP senior economist Diana Mousina said.

Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah announced the figures in a speech to the Policy-Influence-Reform (PIR) conference in Canberra this afternoon and said they were good news for workers and compliant businesses.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman’s strengthened compliance and enforcement approach has seen another record amount of back-paid wages for Australian workers in the last financial year,” Ms Hannah said.

On the other hand, it’s also an indication of how large the problem of worker underpayment has become.

More than half of the recoveries – almost $279 million – came from large corporate employers.

In June, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) took Woolworths to court in relation to “major underpayments” of its salaried managers.

But Woolworths is just one of a long list of major employers that have underpaid their workers, including Wesfarmers, Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank, Super Retail Group, Michael Hill Jewelers and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

AMP Capital senior economist Diana Mousina sitting in a chair smiling at the camera.
Diana Mousina says wage underpayments are “clearly a problem.”(ABC News: Billy Cooper)

The Fair Work Ombudsman currently has about 50 investigations underway into large corporations that have self-reported underpayments, including some of Australia’s largest companies.

“I don’t know how much longer it will take to resolve,” Ms Mousina said.

“[But] I don’t think it’s part of the normal part of working in Australia.”

In 2021-22, the federal workplace regulator filed a record 137 litigations.

This was close to a doubling of the number of new matters put into court the year before.

Workers’ pay has become a crucial economic issue.

Today Labor made a submission to Fair Work asking for a “significant” increase to the pay of aged care workers, who make up roughly 2.6 per cent of the workforce.

Earlier this year, Fair Work raised the minimum wage by 5.2 per cent and raised award wages by 4.6 per cent.

Larger wage increases have become vital for economic growth as inflation threatens to push over 7 per cent.


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