Clifford Gouldson Lawyers

FWO decision is a warning for HR advisers, managers & recruiters

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The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is well known for being the agency that pushes to enforce employee rights by pursuing employers for breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Fair Work Act).


With its recent (and very public) action against the fuel giant 7-Eleven making the agency’s presence and stance towards enforcing employee entitlements quite well known, it’s no surprise some employers might be treading more carefully than ever before.


But it’s not just employers who need to be careful and ensure they are acting within the bounds of the Fair Work Act. The FWO has now warned that human resources, management and recruitment personnel also need to listen up as they may also be liable for breaches of the Fair Work Act.


In a speech to Sydney's Australian Human Resources Institute, Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James stated that the accessorial liability provisions contained in the Fair Work Act extends to include HR advisers, managers, recruiters, supply chains and franchises – emphasising that advisers too need to recommend their clients “stay on the right side of the law”.


She continued by warning that "if you are involved in facilitating a breach of the law, you are personally at risk of being found to be an accessory."


With approximately 92% of cases pursued by the FWO in Courts including accessories as Respondents – it is more apparent than ever that the FWO is looking beyond employers and company directors. For example, an accounting firm was last year found to have been involved in processing below award wages and is facing fines of up to $51,000 per breach of the Fair Work Act. The employer’s director, restaurant manager and human resources manager were also named as accessories in the proceedings -  taking accountability to new heights.


With the FWO expanding its sights to parties behind the scenes and with advisers and other like-parties now under the microscope, it is now more important than ever to ensure that your business or your advice is on the right side of the Fair Work Act.


If you are ever in doubt or if you are ever thinking you should get some specialised advice, you should not hesitate to contact Clifford Gouldson Lawyers as our specialist Workplace team is here to assist. 


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