Workplace Ombudsman shines spotlight on food retailers in run-up to Christmas

Posted by James Ferre on 13th November 2008

The Workplace Ombudsman has today released a new list of businesses it will target in the lead-up to Christmas to ensure workers are properly paid.The workplace watchdog’s latest “hit-list” includes bakeries, butchers, dairy producers, coffee shops and take-away food outlets. Also in the sights of inspectors will be grocers, smallgoods stores and both retail and wholesale suppliers of poultry and seafood.

Federal Workplace Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson advised that the national food services campaign will run well into the New Year, with random auditing to be carried out at almost 1000 businesses – stand-alone and those located in cafĂ© strips and food courts, including franchises.

Employers found to be underpaying staff or breaching other workplace laws will initially be asked to rectify the issue voluntarily. Legal action would be considered against those found to be blatantly abusing the law, however, with maximum penalties of $33,000.

The latest campaign comes hot on the heels of a concerted effort to ensure compliance within the hospitality sector.

The Workplace Ombudsman last month turned the spotlight on pubs, bars, clubs, taverns, restaurants and some 5-star hotels.

Mr Wilson said complaints coming into his office suggested the food services industry warranted attention, particularly given the number of vulnerable workers it employed.

The top 10 industries for the Workplace Ombudsman are currently cafes and restaurants, real estate agents, security and investigative services, pubs, taverns and bars, accommodation, hairdressing and beauty salons, road freight transport, cleaning services, take-away food retailing and clubs.