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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1142

Fair Work Ombudsman

(Question No. 1522)


Senator Abetz asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, upon notice, on 24 January 2012:

With reference to the Fair Work Ombudsman annual report for 2010 11:

(1) Does the report reference the Fair Work Ombudsman's acknowledged errors in its Wage Rate Calculator, on its website and in advice given to the public; if not, why not.

(2) (a) What performance indicators or other measurement tools are used to track these and other errors; and

   (b) if such errors are not tracked, how can the public be satisfied that the office of the Fair Work Ombudsman is improving its performance.

(3) In regard to the 'performance snapshot' on page vi, can the 825 000 calls to the Fair Work Infoline be broken down into categories, such as: employer or employee; small business or large business; legal, union, or representative roles, as opposed to individuals; if so, can this data be provided.

(4) Of the 32 000 education packs forwarded to employers, how many were:

   (a) supplied to small businesses; and

   (b) left as a result of education visits.

(5) Does the Fair Work Ombudsman engage media monitoring services; if so, at what cost.

(6) In regard to the compliance rates referred to on page 3:

   (a) does the Fair Work Ombudsman have any information suggesting that employers have accidentally or unwittingly over paid staff; and

   (b) are records kept in relation to these statistics.

(7) Given that the report states that a Fair Work Ombudsman employee received a Public Service Medal for 'creating an online tool that helps employees calculate how much they should be paid', can the Minister confirm that problems with the calculator were not with the tool itself, but with the information that was input by others.

(8) In regard to the pie graph on page 41, titled 'Breakdown of attributes of alleged discrimination complaints received in 2010 11', can a list be provided detailing how many of these alleged discrimination complaints were valid, including a break-down as per the categories presented in the pie chart.


Senator Arbib: The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Fair Work Ombudsman Annual Report for 2010-11 does not refer to errors in the on-line pay tools. From 3 February 2012 all updates made to rates of pay in the pay tools, including identified errors, are reported on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has committed significant resources to identifying and correcting errors in data supporting the online pay tools. The Fair Work Ombudsman is confident that all of the identified errors have been corrected. Although the number of errors was relatively small, the review process has been necessarily careful and comprehensive.

Throughout this process it has been necessary to ensure the accuracy of the corrections made and determine the basis upon which the errors occurred. Where necessary the Fair Work Ombudsman consults with the relevant industry bodies.

Having completed that process in respect of the errors that have been identified, a full list of those errors, along with other relevant updates to the pay tools, has been published on fairwork.gov.au.

(2) The Fair Work Ombudsman records and reports upon all changes made to the data supporting the online pay tools.

A quality assurance process that involves at least one peer review occurs prior to any major data updates to the database that supports the online pay tools. Additionally, the Fair Work Ombudsman monitors and investigates all feedback regarding the accuracy of the pay rate information in the online tools. Where issues are identified these are resolved in a timely manner and parties concerned are kept informed.

(3) The Fair Work Infoline only records whether an enquiry is made by an employee or employer, or "other". The categories of employer and employee include their representatives. The Fair Work Infoline does not separately record statistics of calls from unions, employer organisations and legal representatives.

Of the 825,000 calls answered by the Fair Work Infoline in 2010-11, 35% were from employers (or their representatives) and 58% were from employees (or their representatives). A further 7% was recorded as "other".

The Fair Work Infoline does not uniformly record whether the enquiry is from, or pertains to, a small business. However, a survey of 1,500 callers was conducted during a two week period from 10 May 2010. The data from this survey indicates that around 81% of the employers self-identify as having 15 or fewer employees.

(4) At least 23,520 of the 32,000 employer education packs were provided to employers during transitional education visits. Of those, approximately 91% were provided to small businesses, that is, business which self-identify as employing less than 15 employees.

The remainder of the information packs were provided to industry stakeholders or made available at Fair Work Ombudsman offices.

(5) Yes. The cost for media monitoring services in 2010-11 is as follows:

Media Monitors: $20,570.35

Meltwater News: $29,480 (two year contract)

(6) The Fair Work Ombudsman is not aware of the numbers of employers who may accidentally or unwittingly over-pay staff.

(7) The errors in wage calculations were the result of data entry errors, not faults in the functionality or efficacy of the online tool.

(8) The categories delineated in the pie graph 'Breakdown of attributes of alleged discrimination complaints received in 2010-11' reflect the allegations made by the complainants.

Of the 1171 complaints received alleging discrimination, 294 proceeded to full investigation. Of those, 24 are ongoing and 270 are finalised. Of those that are finalised, 258 were not sustained while 12 were resolved between the parties with the assistance of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Of the 877 discrimination complaints that did not proceed to full investigation, 365 were referred to other teams within the Fair Work Ombudsman for investigations relating to other provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009, including the General Protections provisions or minimum entitlements.

The remainder did not proceed to full investigation for jurisdictional reasons, including that the complainant had lodged a concurrent complaint with another agency such as the Australian Human Rights Commission or Fair Work Australia; or that the allegations were outside of the scope of the discrimination provisions of the Act, including that the alleged discrimination occurred prior to the commencement of the discrimination provision of the Act.

A breakdown in respect of each category is as follows:

Primary Alleged Discrimination attribute

Total

Age Discrimination Total

Not Proceeded

109

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

43

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

38

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

3

 

Ongoing

2

 

Totals

109

43

152

Colour Total

Not Proceeded

19

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

3

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

3

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

0

 

Ongoing

0

 

Totals

19

3

22

Family or Carers Responsibilities Total

Not Proceeded

96

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

41

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

33

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

1

 

Ongoing

7

 

Totals

96

41

137

Marital Status Total

Not Proceeded

15

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

0

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

0

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

0

 

Ongoing

0

 

Totals

15

0

15

National Extraction Total

Not Proceeded

13

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

5

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

4

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

0

 

Ongoing

1

 

Totals

13

5

18

Non s351 Discrimination Total

Not Proceeded

156

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

8

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

8

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

0

 

Ongoing

0

 

Totals

156

8

164

Physical or Mental Disability Total

Not Proceeded

153

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

78

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

71

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

2

 

Ongoing

5

 

Totals

153

78

231

Political Opinion Total

Not Proceeded

20

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

5

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

5

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

0

 

Ongoing

0

 

Totals

20

5

25

Pregnancy Total

Not Proceeded

49

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

47

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

38

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

3

 

Ongoing

6

 

Totals

49

47

96

Race Total

Not Proceeded

104

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

29

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

25

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

1

 

Ongoing

3

 

Totals

104

29

133

Religion Total

Not Proceeded

10

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

2

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

2

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

0

 

Ongoing

0

 

Totals

10

2

12

Sex Total

Not Proceeded

66

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

24

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

23

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

1

 

Ongoing

0

 

Totals

66

24

90

Sexual Preference Total

Not Proceeded

18

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

5

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

4

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

1

 

Ongoing

0

 

Totals

18

5

23

Social Origin Total

Not Proceeded

49

 

Proceeded to discrimination investigation

4

 

Not Sustained (includes Withdrawn)

4

 

Resolved with the assistance of FWO

0

 

Ongoing

0

 

49

4

53

 

 

 

 

 

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