The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered more than $580,000 in unpaid wages.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has recovered more than $580,000 in unpaid wages. Cade Mooney

Fair Work recovers $580,000 in unpaid wages

NEARLY 1000 workers in regional Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have been back paid more than $580,000.

This comes after Fair Work inspectors uncovered widespread non-compliance with Australia's workplace laws.

Inspectors audited 209 businesses across the Wide Bay region and found 63 per were failing to pay their employees correctly.

More than 1380 businesses were inspected across the Wide Bay, Ipswich, Latrobe-Gippsland, Shepparton, Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven regions.

A cross-section of industries were targeted, with a focus on the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors.

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said the regulator targeted regions based on intelligence.

"Fair work inspectors targeted specific regions after employees contacted us for help, many of whom could be vulnerable to workplace exploitation due to their youth or visa status," Ms Parker said.

"It is unacceptable that almost half of the businesses we visited were simply unaware of their obligations under workplace laws and were not paying the lawful minimum hourly wage."

Inspectors found 22 per cent of all of the audited business failed to pay their employees correctly.

Fifteen per cent were in breach of non-monetary obligations by not providing payslips or keeping proper employment records, and six per cent failed to both pay their employees correctly and meet their non-monetary obligations.

The Fair Work Ombudsman recovered about $600 per underpaid employee.

The most common breach of workplace laws was underpayment of the minimum hourly rate, and inspectors also uncovered underpayment of overtime and penalty rates.

"The FWO will revisit these businesses as part of our ongoing national proactive compliance monitoring programs," Ms Parker said.

"Appropriate compliance and enforcement action will be used against employers who continue to breach workplace laws."

The Small Business Showcase on the Fairwork website gives small business owners access to resources on workplace laws, with information on hiring, paying and managing employees, handling employee requests and keeping accurate records.