TAMWORTH child care centres are among up to 100 across NSW to be audited by the Fair Work ombudsman.
The audit is part of a national campaign to improve compliance with workplace laws, particularly around wages and record-keeping, and is in response to the high number of complaints to the ombudsman from child care workers in recent years.
In 2012-13, there were almost 400 complaints from childcare workers, leading to 123 workers being repaid about $255,000 in wages.
Ombudsman Natalie James said Fair Work inspectors would work with businesses to ensure they were familiar with the tools and resources available to help them comply with their obligations.
“A key part of the role of the Fair Work ombudsman is to educate and help businesses, particularly those small businesses which don’t have the benefit of in-house HR staff, about how to comply with workplace laws,” Ms James said.
She said as part of the campaign they had written to 14,000 childcare businesses across Australia advising them of the help available and including resource materials.
“We’re encouraging all employers in the industry to conduct their own self-audit of compliance with workplace law, particularly payment of wages, using the resources and information we have provided,” Ms James said.
She said the childcare sector was a major employer in Australia, with about 140,000 employees, 96 per cent of whom were female and about a quarter of them were young workers, aged up to 24.
“We are mindful that this is an industry which employs large numbers of young people who can be considered vulnerable in the workplace because they may not be fully aware of their entitlements or where to go for information and advice,” Ms James said.
The campaign will focus on long day care centres, which represent about half the industry.
It will also include audits of preschools, out-of-school-hours care, vacation care and occasional care centres.
It does not include centres operated by local government, as this is outside the ombudsman’s jurisdiction.