10 August 2019

The University of Sydney’s Stephen Clibborn on the need for properly resourced workplace inspectors: “Without allocating significant additional resources to enforcing laws, we won’t catch more non-compliant businesses nor encourage them to comply, rendering new laws as hollow as our minimum wage standards. Robust on paper but impotent in practice. … The [Fair Work] Ombudsman’s revenue from government remains lower than a decade ago, even with the government’s trumpeted additional $10 million, and yet it carries the newly added expenses of the Registered Organisations Commission. It employs about 185 inspectors to police every workplace in Australia. Still, resourcing need not be limited to the Ombudsman. Unions used to be a significant part of the enforcement solution, contributing to ensuring the integrity of our employment laws. However, their membership has declined and the government continues legislative efforts to marginalise unions rather than co-opting them to aid employment law enforcement.” Until the government is prepared to take wage theft seriously, the best thing workers can do is join their union.