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Hastings Street shakedown: Noosa restaurants in sights of wage theft inspectors

Business

Sunshine Coast businesses, including high-end Noosa eateries, were being targeted with surprise inspections that were targeting wage theft.

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Inspectors have 35 businesses in their sights including 20 farms, labour hire companies and 15 food outlets.

It follows a similar action in July when the Fair Work Ombudsman carried out inspections of horticulture businesses around Queensland’s Lockyer Valley region.

FWO said the eateries in line for inspections were in the Noosa Shire. They included a mix of high-end restaurants and cheap eat venues.

Businesses were selected to be assessed for compliance based on intelligence such as anonymous reports to the FWO, or because they employ visa holder workers who can be vulnerable.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said protecting vulnerable workers and boosting compliance in the agriculture and fast food, restaurant and café sectors were priorities for the regulator.

“Inspectors on the Sunshine Coast are busy this week visiting farms and eateries to speak with employees and hold employers to account if they are not meeting their obligations.”

“We will take enforcement action where appropriate. We also act to ensure employers understand their legal responsibilities, including record-keeping and the minimum wage guarantee for pieceworkers in horticulture,” Ms Booth said.

“We know the agriculture and fast food, restaurant and café sectors employ many young workers and visa holders who can be vulnerable to exploitation, as they are often unaware of their workplace rights and unwilling to speak up. Migrant workers may also have limited English skills,” Ms Booth said.

“Employers who need assistance meeting their obligations should contact the FWO directly for free advice, and we also urge workers with concerns to reach out to us.”

The fast food, restaurant and café audits are part of a national program that has recently recovered more than $680,000 in unpaid wages for workers in Melbourne’s inner south and inner west food precincts, and has previously targeted eateries in Melbourne’s Degraves Street and Hardware Lane, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Darwin, the Gold Coast, Perth, Newcastle and most recently south-east Melbourne.

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