The Fair Work Australia ombudsman has promised that she will take a stronger approach to enforcement in the coming financial year.

Sandra Parker said the government has given the regulator increased powers and more resources – and that she plans to use them.

Her priority industries and issues in 2019-20 will be:

  • Fast food, restaurants and cafes
  • Horticulture and the harvest trail
  • Supply chain risks
  • Franchisors
  • Sham contracting

“So if you are in one of our priority industries, operate a franchise system or employ large numbers of migrant workers, you should expect to hear from us,” she said.

Rogue small business owners will be named and shamed

Ms Parker said the regulator would publicly name employers who break the law, to spread the message that it is not acceptable to underpay workers or deprive them of their entitlements.

“If an employee comes to us and says they haven’t been paid and their employer is giving them the run-around, we have the power to compel records,” she said.

“If these records are deficient in some way, we can issue a penalty infringement notice, and if an inspector forms a reasonable belief that there’s been an underpayment, the inspector can issue a compliance notice.”

The ombudsman will also make increasing use of compliance notices to address underpayments, breaches of awards and the National Employment Standards, according to Ms Parker.