It’s important for every business owner – especially if you’re a business with employees, to be familiar with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). 

Complying with employment regulations is an essential practice for all businesses. However, you may not always get it completely right. To avoid breaking employment regulations and potentially causing conflict with your employees, it’s best to seek advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman first. 

Keep reading to know more about how the Fair Work Ombudsman can help your business.  

What Is the Fair Work Ombudsman?

The FWO is an independent body of the Australian government. It was established by the Fair Work Act 2009 to help standardise fair work practices in Australia. The FWO is essentially the central body that communicates and helps to uphold the requirements set out by Australian fair work regulations. 

The FWO is a commonwealth established agency, therefore it’s relevant to all Australians in every part of Australia. 

What Is The Role Of The Fair Work Ombudsman?

The primary role of the FWO is to ensure that there’s clarity, education and understanding around Australian fair work practices. A common misconception is that FWO is there only to protect employees – this is not true. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman is available to aid both employees and employers alike, as their main objective is to harmonise and promote fair work standards all across Australia. 

As such, the FWO is a free service for both employers and employees. Anytime an employee or an employer needs some clarity regarding fair work practices in Australia, they can always turn to the FWO to get their questions answered.

What Is A Compliance Notice?  

Other than providing information, the FWO also has the ability to send out Fair Work Inspectors to investigate a claim. If a Fair Work Inspector finds that a breach of fair work regulations is taking place, they have the authority to hand out a compliance notice. 

A compliance notice lets employers know what the issue is and how they can correct the problem. If you receive a compliance notice as an employer, your best option is to act on it as quickly as possible. Even though the FWO can’t start legal proceedings based on a compliance notice, not doing so can be the start of more problems for your business.

What Can The Fair Work Ombudsman Do For Me? 

As an employer, getting familiar with the Fair Work Ombudsman can help you stay ahead of your legal obligations. 

It’s a good idea to get in touch with the FWO at least once to ensure all your employment practices are up to date. Afterall, you want to make sure the awards, entitlements and workplace policies you have in place for your employees aren’t breaching any of their rights. 

When it comes to employment law, there’s a lot of information out there. The problem is, not all of it might be true. A common mistake employers tend to make is allowing family, friends or colleagues steer them in the wrong direction. It’s always best to go directly to the source and get the correct information from them. Taking reasonable steps to do the right thing can always help limit your liabilities in case something ever does go wrong.

For employers, the FWO can provide information on matters such as: 

  • Employment terms
  • Payslip obligations
  • Record keeping
  • Minimum pay and entitlements
  • Annual, breaks and sick days  

Keep in mind, simply understanding your obligations isn’t enough, it’s important to implement them into your workplace practices. Using legal instruments to accomplish this is always a smart move. Having things like well drafted Employment Agreements and Workplace Policies can go a long way in ensuring your business is legally compliant with employment regulations. 

Chat with one of our legal experts today so they can get you started. 

How Is The Fair Work Ombudsman Different From The Fair Work Commission? 

You might have heard of the Fair Work Commission (FWC). 

The Fair Work Commission, while still related to employment law, deals with a somewhat different scope of issues than the FWO. These include matters relating to:

  • Unfair or unlawful dismissal 
  • Workplace bullying and harassment
  • Enterprise agreements and fixed terms contracts
  • Unpaid parental leave extensions
  • Flexible work options 
  • Industrial action orders 

The Fair Work Commission also has the power to hold mediation, conciliation and in certain circumstances public tribunal hearings. They have the authority to make decisions on certain matters as well. If you’re an employer, you shouldn’t expect to deal with the FWC unless there’s been a case brought out against your business. 

How Do I Contact The Fair Work Ombudsman? 

To get in touch with the Fair Work Ombudsman, it’s a good idea to visit their website. They provide some pretty comprehensive information on there, so it’s a good place to start. The FWO website also allows you to contact them online or make an anonymous complaint.  

If you want to chat with someone from their office, then you can call them on 13 13 94.  

Next Steps

The Fair Work Ombudsman plays a pretty crucial role in Australian employment regulations. As a business owner, it’s important to understand who they are, what they do and how to get in touch with them. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is an independent Australian government body established by the Fair Work Act 2009 to standardise fair work practices
  • FWO’s primary role is to ensure clarity, education and understanding of fair work practices for both employees and employers
  • It is a free service offering information and assistance to address inquiries related to fair work practices in Australia 
  • FWO can send Fair Work Inspectors to investigate claims and issue compliance notices to address breaches of fair work regulations
  • Employers should proactively engage with FWO to stay informed about legal obligations, including employment terms, payslip obligations and record-keeping
  • Engaging the right legal instruments to comply with workplace obligations, such as a workplace policy is essential
  • Fair Work Commission (FWC) is distinct from FWO, dealing with issues like unfair dismissal, workplace bullying, enterprise agreements, and industrial action orders
  • Contact FWO through their website for comprehensive information, online inquiries, or anonymous complaints or call them on 13 13 94 for direct assistance

If you would like a consultation on the Fair Work Ombudsman, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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