Workplace Ombudsman sets sights on hospitality sector

Posted by Isobel Drake on 26th September 2008

The Federal Workplace Ombudsman has announced a national campaign targeting the hospitality industry.

Hotels, restaurants, taverns, bars and clubs throughout Australia will be randomly audited to ensure workers are being properly paid, with the three-month long campaign to begin next week.

Workplace inspectors in all states and territories will be checking to ensure compliance with:

• Rates of pay (including casual rates and minimum rates)
• Penalty loadings (weekend, late nights)
• Allowances
• Meal breaks
• Juniors not serving alcohol, and
• Approval and lodgement of workplace agreements

The hospitality sector was earmarked for auditing following an analysis of complaints between March, 2006 and October, 2007.

Cafes and restaurants accounted for the most claims during that period. Pubs, taverns and bars ranked fourth, accommodation houses fifth and clubs were placed at number 10.

A state-based campaign recouped $97,000 for 270 workers at restaurants, cafes and caterers in central and northern Queensland last month after inspectors checked the books at 151 premises and found many staff were being underpaid.

Information packs have been mailed to about 8000 hospitality businesses across the country over the past few weeks informing them of the latest campaign.

Key stakeholders, including the Australian Hotels Association, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union, Restaurant and Catering Association and Hotels, Motels and Accommodation Association, have also been consulted.

Workplace Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell said he hopes the campaign will raise awareness of both employees and employers of their rights and responsibilities.

Breaches of the Workplace Relations Act carry a maximum penalty of $33,000.

A report on the results of the audits will be made public at the end of the campaign.