Natalie James, the Fair Work Ombudsman addressed the Australian Industry Group National Employment Conference on the 28th November 2013.
Each year the FWO answers more than half a million phone calls, receives 10 million visits to their website and deals with 25000 complaints. From all this only 50 matters go to court.
In her address to the conference, Natalie James covered many issues and outlined the FWO plan’s for the future, preferring to focus on areas other than litigation.
The FWO ultimate aim to is to “equip workplace participants to make decisions about their businesses and about their jobs. To give them confidence to manage their
relationships in the workplace without the need for intervention from us. To embed good workplace practices and bring about a culture of compliance.”
Small Businesses need help
Small business and family businesses often need to comply with a myriad of legislation on top of running their business. We have set up a Small Business team who will look at how we can improve the way the FWO interacts wit small businesses.
We are developing new resources, mobile solutions and web based communications to help small business understand their obligations. These include the creation of:
- a dedicated small business line so that these customers get served faster.
- a wages app
- a Small Business Guide to Hiring first employees.
These tools are set up as an education not compliance tool – “If, in good faith, callers to our Small Business Helpline follow our advice, they will not be the subject of future penalty proceedings by the Fair Work Ombudsman should it turn out that advice was wrong. They did the right thing by coming to us for help. They
shouldn’t suffer loss as a result. We will work with them to help them understand and meet their obligations.”
The four year period allowed for the transition phase to the Modern Award system is nearly over, and as such we will be able to provide simpler information and advice about a national wage scheme as of the 1st July 2014.
This includes a new online wages tool that can be access via the web or online. We will also provide simple wages tables for those that are familiar with their award and just need a handy reference.
Other issues covered
- further development of MyPortal
- intervention when there is a public need
- FWO’ role in the building industry