Half of textile firms in breach of workplace laws

21 January 2019

A campaign to improve working conditions in Australian garment supply chains has recovered almost $85,000 for textiles, clothing and footwear workers.

The campaign, carried out by the Fair Work Ombudsman, audited 371 textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) businesses considered to be at high risk of non-compliance and found that only 52% were compliant with all their workplace relations requirements. The remaining 48% were found to be in breach of some aspect of workplace obligations.

The majority of those in breach had fallen foul of non-monetary requirements, with 36% of breaches relating to record-keeping. However, almost $85,000 was recovered from 68 businesses for 138 workers, in one case recovering over $10,000 for a worker who had not received the required pay progressions over a six-year period.

Inspectors also issued over 100 formal cautions to businesses found to be non-compliant as well as 31 infringement notices and four compliance notices. The audits were conducted as part of a wider campaign to increase awareness of workplace laws at all levels of the supply chain.

According to acting fair work ombudsman Kristen Hannah, the TCF sector was targeted due to its vulnerable workforce, including an unverified number of outworkers that can be difficult to identify, making accurate records particularly important for ensuring their working conditions are compliant with workplace laws.

She said: “Employers at all levels of the supply chain need to be aware of their workplace obligations and of community expectations that they be held accountable where these are breached.”

She continued: “We are particularly concerned by the high rate of record-keeping breaches in this sector and have placed more than 100 employers on notice. Businesses now face higher penalties for failing to keep the right records, and a reverse onus of proof when it comes to disproving underpayment allegations in court.”

 Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.


CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates