Multinational cosmetics company Lush has backpaid workers almost $4.5 million and entered into an enforceable undertaking with the FWO after the lack of an HR department and training, along with a moribund manual payroll system, led to widespread underpayments.
The FWO has won its first "serious contravention" penalties three years after the provisions were added to the Fair Work Act, a café and its former general manager fined a total of $230,000 on their second visit to court for underpaying workers.
The National Library of Australia has avoided becoming the second federal public body forced to make a "contrition payment" to the FWO, after admitting to underpaying casual employees almost $250,000 over two decades.
The FWO is urging 7-Eleven to enter into a second compliance deed, following "substantial improvements" to payroll and time-recording systems and audits leading to backpayments of more than $102,000 under its first arrangement.
Despite suspending field-based work due to COVID-19, the FWO's annual report reveals it has more than tripled the amount recovered for workers and significantly increased its compliance activities after revising its strategy.
The Morrison Government will modestly increase funding to the Fair Work Commission over the next two years as part of its response to COVID-19, which is expected to drive up employer insolvencies and increase demand for the Fair Entitlements Guarantee scheme.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker says the number of large corporations under investigation for underpayment has risen to 70, forcing the agency to redeploy staff while also having to deal with a spike in inquiries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.