Adequate record keeping is an imperative process for every organisation. It helps to manage cash flow, prevents oversight, saves time and money and it informs decision making. There are serious legal implications for insufficient and poor record keeping. The current prosecution of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) for breaching the Fair Work Act brings to light the seriousness of the matter.
UNSW self-reported underpayment issues to Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) who have claimed that investigations were unable to be adequately completed due to the unacceptable level of record keeping. Markedly, from early 2018 record keeping breaches of the Fair Work Act were deemed so serious that they attract a significant maximum penalty.
The investigation commenced in 2020 and has detected breaches of the Fair Work Act from 2017 to 2022. The case focuses on a sample of 66 casual academic staff who were employed at the UNSW Business School at Kensington, Sydney. There have been several alleged breaches uncovered including inadequate information on payslips, unlawful delayed payment of some entitlements, failing to record hours, pay rates and entitlements. It is reported that UNSW employees were made aware of some of the breaches, however UNSW continued to breach workplace laws. The FWO stated that these breaches ‘meet the definition of ‘serious contraventions’ under the Fair Work Act’.
The UNSW faces serious penalties for the alleged breaches where it could be fined up to $66,600 per contravention and up to as much as $666,000 for serious contraventions. This is a stark reminder of how important record keeping is to ensure organisations are adhering to workplace laws.