“Intelligence from a range of sources” indicating potential underpayments in the agriculture sector across Tasmania’s north has led to Fair Work launching an investigation into local farms and labor hire companies.
“Surprise inspections” will be undertaken by Fair Work Inspectors at around 20 farms from Devonport through to East Launceston and Cressy.
Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the inspected farms include a variety of producers, ranging from berries, apples and pears to pastoral and viticulture businesses.
“These inspections are focused on holding employers to account if they are not meeting their obligations. We will take enforcement action where appropriate,” Booth said.
“This sector engages many vulnerable workers, such as backpackers, other migrants and those with limited English skills, who are particularly at risk of exploitation as they’re often unaware of their rights or unwilling to speak up.”
She said inspectors were on alert for employers not paying for all hours worked, making unauthorised deductions from wages and failing to meet the minimum wage requirements.
Findings of the investigations will be shared at a later date.
In cases where breaches warrant court action, penalties of up to $18,780 per contravention for individuals and $93,900 per contravention for companies can be imposed.
Both said maximum penalties are 10-times higher if a court determines breaches were serious contraventions under the Fair Work Act.