Don't get caught cooking the books!

By Gabrielle Stannus

Are you up to date with recent changes to the Nursery Award? Make sure your business is compliant with workplace legislation to avoid similar penalties as those dished out to high-profile chef George Calombaris and his business partners by the Fair Work Ombudsman recently.


George Calombaris of MasterChef and Hellenic Republic fame has been in the news recently, and not for his cooking skills! This time, the famous chef has been under scrutiny concerning the underpayment of workers at several restaurants he is associated with.

“As you are aware, the Fair Work Ombudsman entered into a Court-Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with MADE Establishment earlier this year, which will see that the company remains under ongoing regulatory scrutiny. Under Attachment B of this EU, George Calombaris, on behalf of MADE Establishment, is required to participate in a minimum of 7 agreed speaking engagements. The company has also back-paid workers over $7.8 million in wages and superannuation and was required to pay a contrition payment of $200,000,” said a Fair Work Ombudsman spokesperson when contacted for comment.

“Employers must ensure they meet their workplace obligations, and the Fair Work Ombudsman will not hesitate to take enforcement action where we find deliberate and systemic non-compliance with workplace laws,” continued this spokesperson.

The Fair Work Ombudsman enforces compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009, related legislation, awards and registered agreements. They also help employers and employees by providing advice and education on pay rates and workplace conditions. The Fair Work Ombudsman does not set and amend Awards; that is the responsibility of the Fair Work Commission, the national workplace relations tribunal.

Changes to the Nursery Award
The Fair Work Commission published updates to the Nursery Award 2010 on 20 June 2019, including the decision of the Expert Panel for the Annual Wage Review 2018-19 to include increases to the minimum wage of nursery industry employees. To avoid potential fines to your business, not to mention reputational damage or the loss of business relationships, make sure you are up to date with these changes.

Need more help?
To make it easier for both employers and employees to access information about key entitlements such as pay, hours worked, allowances, leave and termination, the Fair Work Ombudsman has developed the following resources:

  • Pay Guides
  • The PACT Pay and Conditions Tool: Including Pay, Leave Calculator, Notice and Redundancy and Shift Calculators
  • Find My Award Tool
  • Six videos designed to help visa-holders understand workplace rights, available in 16 languages other than English
  • The Record My Hours App, which allows employees to automatically track and record their hours and save information about their employment. The App is available in 17 languages and English and gives students a way to record employment information, such as hours of work and work location, and export this information when necessary.

For free workplace advice and assistance, visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the FairWork Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available by calling 13 14 50. Anyone can also report workplace issues to the Fair Work Ombudsman anonymously using their anonymous report tool, available in seventeen languages.

Fair Work Ombudsman’s new priorities
The Fair Work Ombudsman has sent a strong signal to businesses the importance of ensuring their record-keeping is in order. This messaging will continue under their current campaign.

“Earlier this year, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker delivered a speech at the Ai Group PIR Conference. In her speech, Ms Parker announced the Fair Work Ombudsman’s key priorities for the 2019-20 year. The Fair Work Ombudsman’s priority industries or issues include supply chain risks, franchisors and sham contracting, and we will continue focus on assisting vulnerable workers (including visa holders or young workers),” said the spokesperson.

Greenlife Industry Australia is here to help
If you have any concerns about the Fair Work Act, industry awards and other issues regarding workplace legislation that you would like Greenlife Industry Australia to take up on your behalf, please contact Peter Vaughan directly via peter.vaughan@greenlifeindustry.com.au or on (02) 8861 5100.