With the Coalition claiming victory in the 2016 federal election, the new government may consider it has a mandate to seek legislation changes to broaden the coercive powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Amongst the Coalitions policies for labour reform is to confer the Fair Work Ombudsman with similar powers to acquire information in relation to investigations as ASIC, the ACCC and the ATO.
These powers could include the power to:
(a) compel persons to provide information; and
(b) compel persons to attend for examination and answer questions (which are not covered by privilege).
These extra powers are said to be necessary to ensure that the Fair Work Ombudsman is able obtain information where documentary evidence does not exist, has been altered or when people are not wiling to come forward with information.
Although the Fair Work Ombudsman’s currently has the power to require a person to produce records or documents under section 712 of the Fair Work Act and attend on a workplace for inspection, it currently cannot compel a person to provide information and be examined.
The new government is also expected to seek the introduction of new penalties for misleading or providing false information to Fair Work inspectors. These new penalties and powers, if legislated, are anticipated to substantially assist the Fair Work Ombudsman prosecute larger entities who have contravened workplace laws.
This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.