Role of Fair Work Ombudsman (Wage Recovery)

Role Of Fair Work Ombudsman

(Wage Recovery)


Role of Fair Work Ombudsman (Wage Recovery)

The Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is an Australian Government regulatory body under Commonwealth legislation. Operating independently from the Fair Work Commission, the Federal Courts, and the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission) the FWO educate, mediate and advocate (prosecute) in regard to compliance issues arising from the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), workplace laws or underpayments under the Modern Award. 

FWO Enforcement Action

A key role of the FWO is the recovery of wages for an employee claiming underpayments from their employer. As a Director or Manager, if the FWO contacts you regarding an underpayment, it’s important to seek advice and gather all related information including:

  1. Time and wages records;
  2. Payslips for the period;
  3. Timesheets for the period;
  4. Expenses for the period;
  5. Employment contracts;
  6. Job advertisement;
  7. Tax File Number Declaration;
  8. Any warnings or formal correspondence to the employee;
  9. Any consultation with the employer; and
  10. Industrial Instrument (Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement).

The FWO seeks to perform a statutory function efficiently, effectively, economically and ethically. That is, a mediated or agreed resolution may be the best utilisation of public resources with the matter progressing to court.

The FWO give priority to vulnerable workers and matters that demonstrate a blatant disregard for laws or repeat offending. Directors and Managers must note the FWO commonly include Accessorial Liability in prosecutions.

FWO High-profile Complaints Cause Reputational Damage

The FWO is aggressive in seeking high-profile cases of non-compliance with workplace laws. In recent years big brands like Woolworths, 7-Eleven, George Calombaris’s restaurant, Domino’s and the list grows each month. The loss of trade, brand damage and public backlash compound any underpayment costs. 

For Director or Manager queries, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178 or

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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