Metropolitan and regional councils across Australia will be randomly audited as part of a Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) campaign to ensure local government procurement decisions are not undermining compliance with federal workplace laws, warns today’s FWO statement.
“It is important that local councils understand that when they sign low-cost contracts to buy in security services, they are not contributing to the underpayment of employees working for their sub-contractors,” says Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.
The FWO has been working with the Australian Security Industry Association Ltd (ASIAL) and the United Voice union since May last year to educate local councils about their workplace obligations.
“Contracting out labour is a legitimate approach to doing business, but councils need to consider whether their procurement processes and subsequent governance of those arrangements create an environment where workers are open to exploitation,” James states.
ASIAL chief executive Bryan de Caires points out the campaign will benefit security service providers that are complying with workplace laws by helping to create a level playing field.
“If the price is too good to be true, it probably means somebody is not compliant with workplace laws,” he says.
“Operators who are gaining unlawful and unfair competitive advantage are profiting at the expense of the workers and the legitimate operators who are doing the right thing.”
United Voice national president Jo Schofield believes the campaign will benefit the many security industry employees who rely on minimum award entitlements.
The FWO investigation is expected to take a year to complete, with a report on the outcomes anticipated by August 2016.
In 2009, the FWO audited more than 300 security businesses as part of a national campaign and found that less than half were compliant with workplace laws.
A follow-up campaign in 2012 saw a significant improvement, with 75 percent of the 392 businesses audited found to meeting their obligations.