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75 per cent compliance rate for pharmacies: Fair Work Ombudsman

16 December, 2013

A Fair Work Ombudsman campaign has found that 75 per cent of pharmacies nationally are fully compliant with workplace laws and paying workers correctly.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the compliance rate was evidence that efforts to increase awareness of workplace laws among employers in the pharmacy industry were having an impact.

"We have an excellent range of free online tools and resources specifically tailored to pharmacy operators and they are really helping employers in this sector comply with their obligations," Campbell said.

As part of the campaign, the Fair Work Ombudsman wrote to more than 8,000 pharmacies nationally to promote the range of free resources available at www.fairwork.gov.au/pharmacy.

Key stakeholders, including employer and employee groups, assisted in promoting the campaign to their members.

In response to receiving a large number of complaints from pharmacy workers, Fair Work Inspectors selected hundreds of privately owned community pharmacies - those not connected to hospitals - for audit earlier this year.

There was a focus on ensuring sales staff, pharmacy assistants, trainees and pharmacists were being paid their full entitlements.

Of the 523 audits completed, 391 (75 per cent) were found to be complying with workplace laws, while 132 (25 per cent) had non-compliance issues.

Of those with issues, 98 businesses had underpaid 599 employees a total of $280,912, while others had only pay slip, record-keeping and technical breaches.

Compliance rates varied across the country.

New South Wales

Of 185 audits completed, 131 businesses (70 per cent) were compliant and 54 had breaches, including 45 businesses underpaying 253 employees $196,715. The largest recoveries included $66,353 for 93 employees at six Port Macquarie businesses, $45,171 for 80 employees at 26 Sydney businesses; $8,717 for five employees at two Tamworth businesses, $4,597 for one employee at a Coffs Harbour business and $1,706 for six employees at a Newcastle business.

Areas in NSW with high compliance rates included Illawarra (100 per cent), Hunter (86 per cent) and the Murray region (86 per cent).

Queensland

Of 157 audits completed, 138 businesses (88 per cent) were compliant and 19 had breaches, including 13 businesses underpaying 20 employees a total of $17,729. The largest recoveries included $6,663 for seven employees at four Brisbane businesses, $4,403 for two workers at a Mackay business and $4,247 for two employees at a Gold Coast business.

Areas in Queensland with high compliance rates included Sunshine Coast (92 per cent), Toowoomba region (90 per cent), Far North (89 per cent), Gold Coast (88 per cent), Wide Bay (88 per cent) and Townsville (86 per cent).

Victoria

Of 87 audits completed, 44 businesses (51 per cent) were compliant and 43 had breaches, including 29 businesses underpaying 251 employees $54,480. The largest recoveries included $43,273 for 225 employees at 24 Melbourne businesses and $916 for one employee at a business near Castlemaine.

Areas in Victoria with high compliance rates included the Murray region (100 per cent) and the Great Ocean Road (75 per cent).

Tasmania

Of 38 audits completed, 32 businesses (84 per cent) were compliant and six had breaches, including four having underpaid 27 employees a total of $5,529. The largest recoveries were $2,511 for 18 employees at a Burnie business and $2,180 for two employees at a Launceston business.

High compliance rate areas included Southern Tasmania (94 per cent) and North West Tasmania (90 per cent).

South Australia

Of 29 audits completed, 27 businesses (93 per cent) were compliant and only two had breaches, with only one small underpayment to an Adelaide employee.

ACT

Of 13 audits completed, 12 businesses (92 per cent) were compliant, while one Canberra business had only minor technical breaches.

Northern Territory

Of eight audits completed, five businesses (63 per cent) were compliant and three had breaches, including two at Darwin underpaying 38 employees $3,103.

Western Australia


Of six audits completed, two businesses (33 per cent) were compliant and four had breaches, including three at Perth underpaying seven employees $3,120.

Common non-compliance issues nationally included underpayment of penalty rates and casual loading, failing to include sufficient detail on pay slips, not keeping accurate records of hours staff worked, non-payment or underpayment of staff uniform allowances and failure to provide minimum shift hours.

Campbell said all employers accepted assistance from Inspectors to voluntarily rectify underpayments and put processes in place to ensure ongoing compliance.

"The underpayments indicate some employers are not ensuring they're aware of the pay rates that apply to their workplace but the overall national compliance rate was strong," Campbell said.

"It is encouraging that the national compliance rate was well above our 2010 Pharmacy Campaign in Queensland where we found that only 56 per cent of pharmacies were compliant and 1300 employees had been underpaid $194,000."

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