EMPLOYERS WARNED OF APPRENTICE CRACKDOWN

EMPLOYERS WARNED OF APPRENTICE CRACKDOWN

THE Fair Work Ombudsman will crack down on hundreds of businesses that employ trainees and apprentices as part of a new national campaign.

Up to 700 businesses in each capital city and regional centres will be targeted for auditing during the next three months.

Fair Work inspectors will focus on employers of first-year apprentices in the automotive, electrical services, manufacturing, butchery and bakery trades.

The employment watchdog has already investigated the construction and hospitality sectors in separate campaigns.

There are almost 400,000 apprentices and trainees working across Australia, with 1400 submitting claims in the 10 months to the end of May 2014.

Deputy Fair Work Ombudsman operations Michael Campbell says almost half of apprenticeship contracts in trades are abandoned, with a third of employees citing poor working conditions.

"Given that we receive a consistent stream of requests for assistance from apprentices and the high drop-out rates, we believe an education and compliance campaign for employers of apprentices and trainees is warranted," Campbell says.

"Our objective is to provide advice and assistance to businesses at the earliest point in the employment relationship to ensure we give the apprentice the best chance of successfully completing his or her trade."

Employers will be assessed on their record-keeping, payslips and payment of minimum hourly rates, penalty rates, overtime, allowances and loadings.

Businesses will also be educated about entitlements for off-the-job training for apprentices, competency-based progression and reimbursement of applicable course fees.

"Where we find problems, we will endeavour to identify the cause," Campbell says.

"This will help to inform our compliance and education efforts in the future."

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