Fair Work Ombudsman Announces 2022-2023 Strategic Priorities

Jun 30th, 2022

The Fair Work Ombudsman has recently announced its priorities for 2022-2023. These take into account the countries recovery from COVID-19 and the move into the new normal.

Their areas of concern include:

Fast food, Restaurants and Cafes

These industries will remain a key focus of the FWO given the continuing high levels of non-compliance, often found during pro-active investigations of metropolitan food precincts. This includes supporting particularly vulnerable workers like young workers and visa holders, who have historically had a higher likelihood of being victims to underpayment.


Much the same, the agriculture industry relies quite significantly on vulnerable employees such as visa holder, as well as the complex labour hire chains that can exist in the industry.

There were also recent changes to the Horticulture Award 2020 that changed how pieceworkers are paid and provided them with a minimum pay guarantee.

The FWO will be paying close attention to ensure that employers are not just educated about these changes, but also complying with them.

The Universities Sector and Large Corporates

Universities have also been the subject of regular self-reports from universities of significant long-running underpayments occurring, including underpayment of casual employees. This has sometimes been a result of lack of management of oversight, and a lack of investment in payroll and time-keeping systems.

Amid current investigations of around 50 corporates that have self-reported non-compliance, the FWO expects to take action against significant numbers of large corporates once again this year.

Sham Contracting

Sham contracting continues to be a concern – wherein a worker is knowingly or unknowingly incorrectly engaged as an independent contractor rather than an employee to avoid certain employee entitlements. This is once more a focus of the FWO to ensure that no employees are left behind – even if they have been engaged otherwise.

Contract Cleaning

Compliance and enforcement for those engaged in contract cleaning will continue to remain a focus, owing to the greater vulnerability of workers to underpayment.

Know Where to Seek Help

This underlines the importance for employers to seek assistance where needed to ensure they comply with their obligations.
The FWO will continue to assist small businesses to meet their obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009, and indeed, prioritise them, given their crucial role in Australia’s economic recovery post-Covid-19. This includes through its Small Business Helpline and its Small Business webpage.

For those that have access to other avenues of employment relations assistance, such as through industry and professional associations – these can be viable recourses to ensure your business is in compliance, particularly for smaller businesses that can often lack in-house HR assistance.

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