As the federal government are undertaking consultations about criminalising underpayments of wages, which includes provisions for not keeping records or keeping false or inaccurate records, employers should be conscious of their record-keeping obligations.
In this article, The National Retail Review explores employer record-keeping obligations and the consequences of not keeping records or keeping inaccurate records.
Not only must an employer make records, but they must also make them available to employees on request for inspection or copying. Any record made under the FW Act or the FW Regulations must be correct and accurate.
Further to the FW Act and the FW Regulations, modern awards also provide for certain records to be made and kept. A common example of modern award record-keeping requirements often arises with respect to the hours of work for part-time employees.
For example, clause 10 of the General Retail Industry Award 2020 provides that an employer must agree with a part-time employee to a ‘regular pattern of work’ in writing and keep a copy of the agreement and any variations, specifying:
Failure to comply with record-keeping obligations or a modern award will generally result in a contravention of a civil remedy provision under the FW Act. Civil remedy provisions provide for courts to be able to issue fines (known as penalties) against employers.
Penalties for non-serious contraventions can be up to $16,000.00 for an individual or $82,500.00 for a company, and serious contraventions can be up to $165,000.00 for an individual and $825,000.00 for a company. The new penalties being considered under wage theft laws may be up to $4.1m for serious contraventions.
Beyond penalties, failing to satisfy record-keeping requirements will result in an employer having the burden of having to disprove any allegations made against them in relation to matters including contraventions of modern awards or the National Employment Standards.