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Medical practices to be hit in under-pay crackdown

Medical practices to be hit in under-pay crackdown - Featured Image

Medical practices have been put on notice to expect a visit from Fair Work inspectors in the coming months to ensure staff are receiving appropriate pay and allowances.

The workplace watchdog has announced it will be carrying out spot checks to examine conditions for receptionists, managers and other staff at 600 health and residential care workplaces around the country, including medical practices.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said on average more than 3000 people a month from the health care and social assistance sector contacted her organisation concerned about pay and work arrangements, and the forthcoming campaign of inspections had been developed with “intelligence and advice from key stakeholders”.

Ms James said Fair Work inspectors will be checking to make sure employers are paying correct minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, allowances and loadings and providing appropriate meal breaks. They will also be ensuring compliance with record-keeping and pay-slip obligations.

The blitz reflects ongoing concern about the behaviour of some employers in the sector, which includes not only medical practices but allied health services and residential care operators.

Since 2010, the watchdog has recovered more than $7 million on behalf of 5300 underpaid workers in the industry, which employees more than 1.4 million, almost 80 per cent of them women, and includes around 10,000 457 visa holders.

In the past three financial years, the Ombudsman has taken seven matters concerning employers in the sector before the courts, and a further 43 have been issued formal Letters of Caution about their workplace practices, putting them on notice that further contraventions may result in enforcement action. Eight received on-the-spot fines for technical infringements.

Ms James said one of the campaign’s aims was to ensure employers were aware of their responsibilities.

For medical practices, the Ombudsman will focus on employees covered by the Health Professionals and Support Services Award.

The AMA has advised practice owners unsure of their obligations under the award or their record keeping requirements to contact their local State or Territory AMA for advice.

Adrian Rollins