Hospitality owners – are you paying your staff the right pay and entitlements?

Hospitality owners – are you paying your staff the right pay and entitlements?

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) announced on December 9, 2021, that their team will be making surprise inspections to hospitality businesses throughout Brisbane including restaurants, cafes, and fast-food outlets.  

About 90 hospitality businesses are facing audits across popular dining precincts including Brisbane CBD, South Brisbane, Fortitude Valley, and Sunnybank.

Why is the FWO doing this?

The FWO advises their investigation will be checking that hospitality staff are getting paid correctly, including entitlements.

The investigation follows several anonymous reports and intelligence from a range of sources, indicating potential underpayments by employers, specifically in the popular dining precincts.

The inspectors will be investigating breaches including unlawfully low flat rates, unpaid hours of work, unpaid penalty rates, late payments, false or incorrect records, and failures to provide payslips, among others.

Businesses haven’t been selected at random; they’ve been chosen due to various indicators of non-compliance (e.g. tip-offs) or the high employment rate of vulnerable workers (e.g. visa holders and students).

The FWO identifies both visa holders and students as vulnerable workers, as they are considered at the greatest risk of exploitation; largely due to their unfamiliarity with Australian workplace laws and reluctance to ask questions or raise concerns with their employer.

The investigation will check employment records for compliance and, if found in breach of workplace laws, enforcement action will be taken against management where appropriate.

Non-compliance can be costly. If a company is found to be in breach of workplace laws, the company can face a court-ordered penalty of up to $33,300 for each Compliance Notice breach and up to $66,600 for each record-keeping breach. Individuals can be penalised up to $6,660 for each Compliance Notice breach and up to $13,320 for each record-keeping breach.

The audits are part of a national program that has previously targeted eateries throughout Australia and has uncovered high levels of non-compliance.


As businesses and the hospitality sector look towards the busy Christmas and New Year period, it’s an important time to ensure that staff are paid correctly, including their penalty rates.

The FWO  hosts a range of interactive tools and resources online at to help employers and employees in the hospitality sector, such as pay calculator and Small Business Showcase.

If your business requires support or advice regarding compliance with Australian workplace laws, including payments and entitlements for your workforce, please contact Akyra for a 30-minute obligation-free chat. 


Disclaimer - Reliance on Content 

The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not and is not intended to be, legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.


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